Printing landmarks

Did you know the Diamond Sutra, the world's earliest dated printed book, is in the British Library? Discover this and other landmarks of printing in the Library's collections.
In 1900, at the ‘Cave of the Thousand Buddhas’ in Dunhuang, China, the world’s oldest surviving, dated, printed document was discovered: The Diamond Sutra, a scroll, block-printed on 11 May 868 (by the Western calendar). The invention of printing, which only reached the West several hundred years later, changed the way we engage with text, language and knowledge forever.  The printed collections at the British Library include some of these early, transformative texts including some of our most well-known collection items: the Gutenberg Bible, Tyndale’s New Testament and Shakespeare’s First Folio.

The Million Pagoda Charms

The Hyakumantō darani or ‘One Million Pagoda Dharani’ are the oldest extant examples of printing in Japan.

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Spring and Autumn Annals

Collected commentaries on the ‘Spring and autumn annals’ - Ch’unch’u kyŏngjŏn chiphae, Seol, 1434

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William Caxton and Canterbury Tales

William Caxton's Chaucer.

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William Tyndale's New Testament

William Tyndale: New Testament.

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Shakespeare's First Folio

Shakespeare's First Folio - title page and introduction by Ben Johnson

The title page of the First Folio with Droeshout’s portrait of Shakespeare.

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A Curious Herbal - dandelion

Blackwell's Herbal, page 3 - Dandelion

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Audubon's Birds of America

Audubon's Birds of America showing a wild turkey, plate 1

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