The Gutenberg Bible

Frost fair souvenir

This Treasure is paired with: Frost fair souvenir (Gutenberg's invention)

  • Johann Gutenberg (printer)
  • c. 1455
  • Mainz, Germany
  • Printed book

The ‘Gutenberg Bible’ epitomises the great advances made in printing technology in the 15th century. It is the first substantial book to be printed from individual pieces of metal type. This flexible system superseded the fixed lettering of woodblocks, developed in China in the 7th century. Gutenberg created a new ink to stick to metal type, and adapted a wooden wine press for printing.

The book was the work of Johann Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468), a goldsmith from Mainz. Printing probably began in 1454, and was completed by March 1455. Fewer than fifty copies survive today, and the Bodleian’s copy is one of only seven complete examples in the British Isles.

Further resources

View the Bodleian Libraries’ copies of the Gutenberg Bible:

 

This Treasure isn’t currently on display in the Weston Library.