Tuesday, 23 February 2010

On this day...

The Gutenberg Bible, thought to spark the 'Gutenberg revolution' of printed books, was traditionally first printed in 1455. Often cited as the first Western book to have been printed using movable type, they were produced by Johannes Gutenberg in his famous press of Mainz, Germany. Preparation of the book is said to have begun soon after 1450, yet it was not until 1454 or 1455 that the first copies were available. Such a time lapse is due to the enormous labour that just one Bible required.

Each Bible was made up of 49, 290 sheets of paper, themselves imported from Italy for quality, and each sheet contained approximately 2600 characters, a single one of which might take a craftsman a day to cut. It is therefore of no surprise that only 180 copies were made, 135 on paper and 45 on vellum. As of 2009, 47 of the Bibles were known to survive, 21 of which were complete. 8 of these are located in Britain, in the illustrious locations of the British, Bodleian, Eton, University libraries to name but a few. Such beautiful, but complicated volumes undoubtedly had influence on future books and editions of the Bible alike.

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