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  3. The Gutenberg Bibles

The Gutenberg Bibles

The 42-line bible ("B42") constitutes the peak of Johannes Gutenberg's work. Among the most beautiful and valuable printed books to this day, it marked the impressive launch of the age of letterpress printing. Two of the forty-nine copies surviving worldwide are found in the collection of the Gutenberg Museum.

Gutenberg's masterpiece

Gutenberg created the two-volume epic work with 1,282 pages between the years 1452 and 1455 with the assistance of many helpers. Of the around 180 copies of his original print run, it is presumed that 150 were printed on paper and 30 on precious parchment. Following initial experiments with rubrication, only the text was printed. Each buyer individually commissioned specialized artisans, the rubricators and illuminators, to create the colored decoration and the cover. This why each copy of the Gutenberg Bible is unique.
With the "B42", Gutenberg established the printed book at the same esthetic level as the manuscripts that had been common until then. The development of letterpress printing with movable letters led to a veritable knowledge revolution involving the sciences, economy, and culture, and became a milestone of human history.


You can learn more about Gutenberg, his time, his inventions and the Gutenberg Bible at: http://www.gutenberg.de/

The 42-line Gutenberg Bible, Shuckburgh copy Gutenberg-Museum, Mainz, Foto: D. Bachert
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