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8. Three phases in the printing process

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. More 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.

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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 per page.

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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.

Tell Me More

1. The types
2. The press
3. The ink
4. The paper
5. The vellum
6. Composition and presses
7. The gatherings
8. Three phases in the printing process
9. How many

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