Three major changes can be detected in
the production phase of the Gutenberg Bible.
1. In the early stages of the printing,
the red headlines before each book of the Bible (the rubrics), were
printed. This procedure involved passing each sheet under the press
twice and it was soon abandoned, probably because it was too time-consuming.
Henceforth the rubrics were intended to be supplied by hand. This
task was evidently not undertaken in Gutenberg's workshop, for the
rubrication differs from one copy to another. Gutenberg provided
assistance for the rubricators by producing four leaves of instructions.
Two copies of the instruction sheets survive, in Munich, Bayerische
Staatsbibliothek and in Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek.
information on rubrication.
2. When folios 1-5 recto and 129-132 recto of volume I had been
printed, it was decided to increase the number of lines per page
from 40 to 42, presumably to save paper.
3. Somewhat later it was apparently decided to increase the print-run.
This decision required reprinting the sheets which had already been
produced, to make up numbers. These sheets had to be reset and there
are consequently two settings of the following folios: in volume
I: folios 1-32 recto, 129-158 verso; in volume
II: folios 1-16 recto, and 162 recto. All reset pages have 42 lines
In the paper copy, the King's copy, folios 1-20 of volume I are
of the second setting, the rest of the first. Therefore, folios
129-132 of volume I have 40 lines per page. There are printed rubrics
only on folio 129 of volume I.
In the vellum copy, Grenville's copy, folios 1-32, and 129-158
of volume I, and folios 1-16 of volume II are of the second setting,
and there are therefore no folios of 40 lines per page. There is
no page with printed rubrics.
Clear conspectuses of the two variant settings are found in Seymour
De Ricci, Catalogue raisonné des premières impressions
de Mayence (1445-1467), Veröffentlichungen der Gutenberg-Gesellschaft,
8-9 (Mainz, 1911), no. 34 at pp. 26-7, and in Paul Schwenke, 'Die
Gutenbergbibel', in: Johannes Gutenbergs zweiundvierzigzeilige Bibel:
Ergänzungsband zur Faksimile-Ausgabe (Leipzig, 1923), p. 25.