British Library Treasures in full: Gutenberg Bible
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Gutenberg in the British Library  1  2  3  4  5  6  7

7. Copies elsewhere in the UK

Apart from the two copies of the Gutenberg Bible in the British Library there are 46 other complete copies of the Bible or substantial fragments worldwide. Six of these are in the United Kingdom.

The Bodleian Library in Oxford has a complete copy printed on paper with a fascinating history. It was given by Erhard Neninger, mayor of Heilbronn, to the local Carmelite monks, probably in 1475. In 1633, during the Thirty Years War, they handed it over to the Swedish general Axel Oxenstierna (1583-1654), in order to buy off the army. The Bodleian Library bought it in 1793 for £100 from the French cardinal Étienne Charles de Loménie de Brienne.

There is a copy in Cambridge University Library. It has been digitised, and is accessible from within Cambridge University. This copy is of special interest because, around 1469, Heinrich Eggestein, a printer in Strasbourg, used it for a new edition of the Bible which he produced.

Eton College has a copy on paper, notable for having retained a very early binding, made in the German university city of Erfurt. It is richly decorated, perhaps also in Erfurt.

At Lambeth Palace in London, the palace of the Archbishop of Canterbury, there is a copy of volume 2, printed on vellum. This copy is of great interest as it was decorated in England, very beautifully and very expensively. The Gutenberg Bible was sold out already before printing was finished and it was evidently distributed widely from the earliest days. This may well be the first printed book to have reached England, but its first owner is unknown.

The John Rylands Library in Manchester has a copy on paper. Nothing is known about its early history. Its first recorded owner was George John, second Earl Spencer (1758-1834).

The copy now in the National Library of Scotland was acquired by the Advocates' Library, shortly before 1806 from David Steuart, Lord Provost of Edinburgh. It contains splendid South German decoration.

Tell Me More
1. The copy on paper
2. The copy on vellum
3. The 42-line Bible 'Bagford Fragment'
4. Why compare the copies?
5. The digitisation
6. Analysis of the Illuminations Using Raman Microscopy
7. Copies elsewhere in the UK

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