11 January 2009

Notes on the Gutenberg Bible

From the intro to the Octavo edition of the Gutenberg Bible (electronic PDF of the Library of Congress-owned Gutenberg), by Janet Ing Freeman,c2003.
  • ...and near the end of his life, securing a handsome pension from the Archbishop of Mainz as a reward for his "agreeable and willing service," a phrase often interpreted as a reference to his having printed The Bible.

  • Paper was imported from Northern Italy.

  • The compositors worked from a manuscript copy of the Bible, carefully "casting off" to ensure that the printed text would flow correctly from page to page.

  • Quires of five signatures were gathered and folded before binding. [That would mean 20 pages that had to be pulled in coordination, so the signatures would be (20,1/2,19) (18,3/4,17) (16,5/6,15) (14,7/8,13) (12,9/10,11)]

  • Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II) referred to as Silvius, wrote some people told him 158 copies had been finished and others said the total was 180. Buyers had been found for all the copies beore the volumes were completed.

  • An 8-page rubric was printed.

  • Fust sued Gutenberg for repayment, claiming that some of the funds provided for "the work of the books" or "the work to their common profit" had been diverted by Gutenberg to other (unspecified) projects. The court decreed that Gutenberg was obliged to repay with interest any money given by Fust and not spent on their joint undertaking.

  • Gutenberg's earlier and slightly larger textura type never appeared in works by Fust or Schoeffer. It is most likely that this type was, in fact, never present in the bible workshop, and that the Latin grammars and other ephemeral works printed with it were produced in a seperate shop directly under Gutenberg's control.

  • The type seems to have left Mainz and around 1460 was used for another folio Latin Bible, printed some 150 miles away in Bamberg. [Is this whhere Gutenberg went in exile?]