3. The 42-line Bible 'Bagford Fragment'

In addition to two complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible the British Library has a fragment of one leaf. It is not well preserved, but is important because it can be shown to have been decorated in England, probably London.

In Lambeth Palace Library, the collection of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is a copy of volume also decorated in England. This shows us that at least two copies arrived in England at a very early date: the Gutenberg Bible was undoubtedly the first printed book to come to this country. This also shows us how the earliest printer was already focused on the international distribution of his production.

Decoration from the Bagford fragment
Decoration from the Bagford fragment. Larger image.

Shelfmark: IC.56a .Printed on vellum. Leaf 268 of vol. II ([DD]7), the end of Paul's letter to the Galatians and the beginning of the letter to the Ephesians.

Provenance: John Bagford (1650-1716). Acquired in 1707 by Hans Sloane (1660-1753); see Margaret Nickson, 'Bagford and Sloane', British Library Journal, (1983), 51-55. Bequeathed to the nation 1753.

Decoration: English; see Eberhard König, 'A leaf from a Gutenberg Bible illuminated in England', British Library Journal, (1983), 32-50.

© The British Library