Gutenberg Bible, 31 leaves
[LATIN BIBLE (the “Gutenberg Bible”)].
Fragment of 31 consecutive leaves.
[Mainz: Johannes Gutenberg and Johann Fust, c. 1455]. (06117)
Gutenberg’s Bible, printed in an edition of approximately 180 copies, was the first large-scale demonstration of the printing press as an instrument of cultural advancement. By rendering the handwritten book largely obsolete, printing with moveable type profoundly changed how Europeans communicated, thought, worshipped, and lived, making the cultural achievements of the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the modern age possible.
Bridwell Library’s fragment of 31 consecutive leaves of the Gutenberg Bible come from an incomplete copy discovered in 1828 at a farmhouse near Trier, Germany. The leaves constitute the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, and the beginning of Baruch. Gutenberg printed these pages in black ink only; the red initials and names of the Hebrew letters introducing the verses of Lamentations were added by a rubricator after the book left the printer’s shop. Some of the leaves also bear early handwritten directions for liturgical reading within a monastery. It is believed that this Bible originally belonged to the wealthy Benedictine monastery of St. Maximin in Trier.