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You are here :  Exhibition >  Johannes Gutenberg >  Gutenberg's printed works > 

The Book of Books: the Bible

Gutenberg-Bible, "Laubach".

During his years in Mainz Gutenberg opened at least one, probably two printing workshops. The first printed materials bearing a date were produced in 1454. These are the Turkish Calendar and the most significant work Gutenberg produced, his 42-line Bible or B 42, which has pride of place in the annals of printing history. There were probably several less ambitious prints made before this date, but these have either been lost or exist as undated works.

At the Gutenberg Museum the device Gutenberg perfected is presented in a variety of ways.

Numerous printed works from Gutenberg’s workshop and those of his contemporaries vividly illustrate the early years of the art of printing. The technical side of printing is explained at the Gutenberg Workshop and by a great number of museum exhibits.

Once you have seen Gutenberg’s printing apparatus in the museum basement, the results he achieved with it seem even more incredible.
The 42-line Bible, printed between 1452 and 1455 in a workshop holding up to six presses and employing ca. 20 craftsmen, is impressive in the beauty and harmony of its typography.
The black lines of the text are all printed. The initials of the 180 copies originally produced on the printing press were coloured at various workshops by illuminators (book artists).
Each one of Gutenberg’s Bibles is thus unique. The Gutenberg Museum is the only museum which gives visitors the chance to see two Gutenberg Bibles side by side and to compare them (the Solms-Laubach Bible and the Shuckburgh Bible).

Other important prints from his workshop are:

  • a unique fragment of the “Weltgericht” poem (“Last Judgement”), possibly the oldest example of typographic printing in existence,
  • a fragment from a Latin textbook (“Donatus”),
  • one of the Cypriot Letters of Indulgence which he printed for the prince-bishop of Mainz.

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