A contemporary witness, Enea Silvio Piccolomini,
reports that the Bible was said to have been produced in either
158 or 180 copies. More information on Piccolomini's
We know that Gutenberg increased the print-run after work had begun.
Perhaps he realised that he had already found a buyer for each copy.
It may be that the two figures quoted by Piccolomini reflect an
awareness of this change.
The figure of 180 has been confirmed by
modern studies of the paper supply. It is now thought that Gutenberg
produced about 135 copies on paper and about 45 on vellum. There
are 48 copies of the Gutenberg Bible still in existence, not all
of them complete, some being only substantial fragments of one of
the two volumes. Of these, 12 are printed on vellum. Only four vellum
copies and 12 paper copies are complete. Both copies in the British
Library are complete.
On the size of the edition see Paul Needham, 'The paper supply
of the Gutenberg Bible', The Papers of the Bibliographical Society
of America, 79 (1985), 303-74.