When book-printing began…

Jogutenberg-04hannes Gensfleisch – this was the real name of a German goldsmith and publisher, who introduced the printing process to Europe, known to all of us as Johannes Gutenberg. He died on this day 1468. 500 years after Johannes Gutenberg’s birth, The Gutenberg Museum was opened in Mainz to honor the inventor and present his technical and artistic achievements to the public at large.

Naturally, the main part of the museum is the reconstruction of Gutenberg’s workshop, where all visitors can see for themselves  authentic type founding, typesetting and printing, as well as the replica of Gutenberg’s printing press, rebuilt according 15th- and 16th-century woodcuts. People can acquaint with the whole process – from casting letter to printing itself. From contemporary pint of view it might seem rather primitive, however, it’s enough to see a celebrated Gutenberg Bible, to appreciate the mastery of the his publishers.

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It’s a true masterpiece: two volumes of almost 1300 pages with 42 lines on each of them; illuminated initials and margins (in some of the copies, not all of them). Gutenberg worked on this Bible over 5 years, assisted with 20 persons. Being an enthusiastic experimenter, he added to the ink a high metallic content, with copper, lead, and titanium predominating. Combination of this ink and refined Italian paper and parchment  (in part of the copies) resulted in a very shiny surface. Despite of such an amount of time and materials spent for this Bible, it cost less then most of the hand-written analogies.

Have a look at the fragments from Gutenberg Bible

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