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According to this (It's a Google book, on p. 154 - in case link has a problem,) the first use of the Torah pointer in Europe was in Northern Italy dating back to the 15th century.
The earliest reference to its use is in connection with the schools of Bethar before the destruction of that place in the war of Bar Kokba (132-135). http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/15047-yad
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