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First Printed Edition of the Qur'an in Arabic, of Which One Copy Survived (August 9, 1537 – August 9, 1538)


Between  August 9, 1537 and  August 9, 1538 Venetian printers Paganino and Alessandro Paganini produced the first printed edition of the Qur'an (Koran) in Arabic. The edition was probably intended for export to the Ottoman Empire.  For centuries this entire edition was thought to be lost, and the rumor was that the Pope had the complete print run burned.

Possibly the most daring and pioneering enterprise in sixteenth-century Venetian printing, this edition was mentioned by a handful of contemporary witnesses, and was reported as wholly destroyed as early as 1620. The reasons suggested for its destruction ranged from the sublime ("Pontifex Romanus exemplaria ad unum omnia impressa suppressit") to the ridiculous (divine intervention would prevent its printing), but without any copies to study, and without any reference in a bibliography or library catalogue, the mysterious edition was regarded as a ghost.  

In 1987 professor Angela Nuovo found a single copy in the library of the Franciscan Friars of Isola di San Michele, in Venice.

Nouvo, "A Lost Arabic Koran Rediscovered," The Library (1990) Sixth Series XII, No. 4, 273-292.