Gutenberg 42-line Bible

The Gutenberg Bible was printed in Mainz c.1455 by Johann Gutenberg (c.1400-1468), the inventor of moveable type in Europe, with his associate, Johann Fust (c.1400-1466). It is also known as the 42-line Bible as most of the pages were printed with 42 lines of type per column.

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Introduction

The Gutenberg Bible was printed in Mainz c. 1455 by Johann Gutenberg (c. 1400-1468), the inventor of moveable type in Europe, with his associate, Johann Fust (c. 1400-1466). It is also known as the 42-line Bible as most of the pages were printed with 42 lines of type per column. While it is estimated that at least 150 copies of the bible were printed, only 48 are known to survive in substantial form today. The Mita Media Center (Keio University Library) holds a copy of the first volume printed on paper, the sole copy to be found in Asian countries. It was formerly owned by a famous American book collector, Estelle Doheny (1875-1958), and arrived at Keio University in 1996. It lacks the second volume and thus contains only the sections running from the opening of the Old Testament through to the Book of Psalms. The Keio copy is uniquely characterized by having a replacement setting on fol. 134 and the original leather “index buttons.” As this bible was not accompanied by a table of contents, these buttons were added to facilitate locating the openings of Books. Only four of these buttons have remained, although it is thought to have had as many as thirty originally. After the bible was printed, each copy received hand-decoration and/or rubrication, which means that no two copies are the same. There are currently only three extant copies of the Gutenberg Bible which are thought to have been illuminated and bound in Mainz, the printing place, and the Keio copy is one of these precious three.