British Library Treasures in full: Gutenberg Bible
Main The Basics Background The Texts References Links Glossary
Gutenberg in the British Library  1  2  3  4  5  6  7

The copy on vellum - Provenance

The Grenville copy is sometimes identified with a copy previously belonging to the Carthusians in Mainz. This is based on a letter from Gerhard Meerman of 1770 (published by Emil Jacobs in Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen, 21 (1910), pp. 159-160), who identified the copy of the Bible printed on vellum bound in two volumes sold at the sale of Louis Jean Gaignat with a copy allegedly taken from the Mainz Carthusians to France by J. B. Maugérard in 1767.

The Grenville copy was certainly the one owned by Louis Jean Gaignat (died 1768) (see Supplément à la bibliographie instructive, ou Catalogue des livres du cabinet de feu M. Louis Jean Gaignat (Paris: G. F. De Bure, April 1769), volume I, pp. 6-7, lot 16). The copy was bought at Gaignat's sale by Paul Girardot de Préfond for 2100 francs and 1 sou.

Around 1775 it was acquired by Justin MacCarthy-Reagh (1744-1811) from Girardot de Préfond, according to Seymour De Ricci, Catalogue raisonné des premières impressions de Mayence (1445-1467), Veröffentlichungen der Gutenberg-Gesellschaft, 8-9 (Mainz, 1911), p. 28, no. 1.

At MacCarthy-Reagh's sale in 1817 it was sold for 6260 francs (see Catalogue des livres rares et précieux ... de feu M. le comte de Mac-Carthy Reagh (Paris: De Bure, 1815, sale: Jan. 1817), volume I, pp. 10-11, lot 61) to Thomas Grenville (1755-1846) (see Bibliotheca Grenvilliana or, Bibliographical notices of rare and curious books, forming part of the library of Thomas Grenville (London 1842-72), volume I, p. 74).

Thomas Grenville bequeathed it to the British Museum in 1846.

See Paul Schwenke, 'Die Gutenbergbibel', in: Johannes Gutenbergs zweiundvierzigzeilige Bibel: Ergänzungsband zur Faksimile-Ausgabe (Leipzig, 1923), no. 29 at pp. 14-15.

Ilona Hubay, 'Die bekannten Exemplare der zweiundvierzigzeiligen Bibel und ihre Besitzer', in: Johannes Gutenbergs zweiundvierzigzeilige Bibel, Faksimile-Ausgabe nach dem Exemplar der Staatsbibliothek preußischer Kulturbesitz Berlin: Kommentarband, ed. W. Schmidt and F. A. Schmidt-Künsemüller (Munich, 1979), 127--55, at p. 142.

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

Main   The basics   Background   The texts   References   Links   Glossary