Gutenberg Bible

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  • Intro

    Johan Gutenberg's amazing invention - the printing press and the use of moveable metal type - would revolutionise the way books were created in the West. Before Gutenberg, every book produced in Europe had to be copied by hand. Now it was possible to speed up the production process, and still make works of high quality. This is probably the most famous Bible in the world, and is the earliest full-scale work printed in Europe using Gutenberg's technology.

     

    The use of metal type would ensure written texts became available to a wider cross-section of society. More than ever before, it enabled people to follow debates and take part in discussions of matters that concerned them. One result of this was more severe attempts at censorship. This was a sign that those in authority felt that the possibilities of printing were dangerous and challenging to their position.

     

    It must be remembered that the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans had been printing books using woodblocks for at least seven centuries before Gutenberg's time. Printing with movable type was invited in China at the beginning of the 11th century but the Chinese script had thousands of characters, so the impact of this form of printing was limited. It was in Korea that the use of metal movable type was first developed in the early 13th century and the oldest extant example is a Buddhist work called Chikchi simch'e yojl printed in 1377.

     

    Shelfmark: C.9.d.4, f.5

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