The Gutenberg Bible


The Gutenberg Bible is a famous print of the first translation of the Bible to Latin, the so-called Vulgata. It was printed by the German pioneer Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany. The printing started on February 23, 1455 using loose types. The book is the most famous incunable (a book printed before the year 1501), and paved way for mass production of books in the Western World. It was printed using Textualis and Schwabacher fonts.

It is thought that the Gutenberg Bible was printed in 180 copies, 45 on parchment and 135 on paper. Earlier it took about three years to complete a book, Gutenberg printed all his copies at the same time. Then he still had to hand paint some parts of the book. Because of this workmanship, each copy of the Gutenberg Bible is unique.

The Bible is available in two versions: one with 42 rows per page and one with 36. When you talk about the Gutenberg Bible, you usually refer to the edition with 42 rows. However, some specialists, like Richard Schwab and Thomas Cahill, claim that the 36th row is the oldest and that the 42-row edition came later. Others, such as Richard W. Clement, argue that the 36-row edition was first printed 1458, three years after the 42-row version, but using an older font.

At present, eleven complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible on parchment are preserved. Another example of the New Testament is also available on parchment. In addition, there are 48 copies of the paper edition preserved. 11 copies can be found in Germany. Four cities have 2 copies: Paris, Moscow, Mainz and the Vatican. In London there are three copies and in New York four.

Our Facsimile Edition

Our facsimile edition, printed by the renowned German publishing house, Taschen, derives from one of the very few surviving complete vellum Latin originals in the world; the Göttingen Library edition, one of the most valuable books in the world, listed in the UNESCO Memory of the World program. 

All 1,282 pages (42 rows of text on each side) of this masterwork are included, along with a companion book written by Stephan Füssel, Gutenberg-Chair at Mainz University.