Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Primary Source Education Modules > Gutenberg Bible > The Invention
The Invention  -  Books Before and After  -  Johann Gutenberg  -  Facts about the Book  -  Activities  -  Glossary  -  Teacher Resources

 

The Invention

What is known about the Gutenberg Bible, and what evidence is available supporting that knowledge?

Only a few documents exist that shed light on Gutenberg and the early history of printing. No records are available to explain how the book was created, the exact date of its completion, and how it was sold and used. Scholars closely examine material evidence found in surviving Bibles to unravel these mysteries. By investigating details of the paper, type, and earliest handwritten additions, parts of the story of the book and the printing process can be revealed, even though much remains unknown.

One thing is certain—the first book printed with movable type established a standard of technological excellence for all later generations.

Adapting Technology
What did Gutenberg invent to print his first major book?

A Familiar Format
What sources did Gutenberg use as a model for his Bible?

Papermaking
How and where was the paper in the Gutenberg
Bible made?

Illuminations & Rubrications
What type of hand painted additions make the Ransom Center's Bible more beautiful and useful?

Gutenberg's Print Shop
What went on in an early print shop, and how was type made?

Marginalia
How have the readers of the Ransom Center's copy of the Gutenberg Bible left their mark?

Buying the Book
What did the purchasers of Gutenberg's Bible
actually receive?

Oops!
Some of the Bible's pages contain mistakes and press corrections.