• BIBLE, LATIN, 2 VOLS. [Mainz: Johann Gutenberg & Johann Fust, ca. 1455]

Curatorial Note:
  • Western civilization’s first large-scale typographic book gave readers throughout Europe the unprecedented opportunity to consult virtually identical copies of a major text, the Vulgate Bible. Printed with a square gothic type that corresponded to the most formal liturgical script, the Bible consists of 643 Royal folio leaves, intended to be bound in two volumes. The printers began setting the text in 40-line columns but soon adopted a reduced type-height and 42-line columns. Four compositors worked concurrently on four near-equal sections of the Bible: Octateuch, Kings through Psalms, Proverbs through Prophets, and Maccabees plus New Testament. Eleven quires into production, the printers increased the edition size, reprinting those quires to arrive at a final total of at least 120 paper and perhaps 40 vellum copies. Sold widely across Europe, the Gutenberg Bible and its descendants remained the standard version of the Latin scriptures into the 16th century and beyond. The individual Gutenberg Bibles provide important insights into the original dissemination of the edition. Six surviving copies were sold in Erfurt, Germany. The Scheide Library copy, beautifully illuminated and bound there, belonged to Erfurt’s Dominican friars until 1522, when the city adopted Lutheranism. Forgotten for three centuries, it was discovered in an ancient chest of the former Dominican church in 1838. In 1872 the Bible was purchased by a Berlin bookdealer. A year later the American dealer Henry Stevens sold it to George Brinley of Hartford, Conn. Subsequent owners were Hamilton Cole, Gen. Brayton Ives of New York, and James Ellsworth of Chicago. In 1924 the Philadelphia bookseller A. S. W. Rosenbach sold it to John Scheide, whose son William bequeathed it to Princeton University in 2014. Exhibited is the illuminated beginning of I Samuel, and the original stamped calfskin binding from Johann Fogel’s workshop in Erfurt.
Uniform title:
  • Bible. Latin. Vulgate. 1456
  • WHS copy has provenance: Predigerkirche, Erfurt, Germany; George Brinley; Brayton Ives; Hamilton Cole; and James W. Ellsworth.
Former owner:
  • Brinley, George, 1817-1875
  • Ives, Brayton, 1840-1914
  • Cole, Hamilton
  • Ellsworth, James W. (James William), 1849-1925
  • Predigerkirche (Erfurt, Germany)
  • Fogel, Johannes, active 1455-1462
  • Latin
Call number:
  • 48.1
  • 113.2
  • Electronic Resource
  • 2 v. (324; 319 leaves) ; 40.5 x 28.8 cm. (fol.)
  • Book
  • Commonly known in English as the Gutenberg Bible, also known as the Mazarine Bible.
  • WHS copy has 12 leaves supplied from other copies and 5 leaves supplied in facsimile; the 17 leaves are vol. I fo. 1 and vol. II fo. 1, 17, 25, 46, 70, 149, 155, 156, 191, 217, 235, 268, 270, 275, 279, and 305.
  • Princeton copy 2: A single imperfect paper leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible. The leaf is vol. II fo. 122 (the 2nd leaf of quire 13), with text of the last verses of Ezekiel 33, all of Ezekiel 34, and beginning verses of Ezekiel 35. The leaf comes from an otherwise lost copy of the Gutenberg Bible. It is one of nineteen such leaves, all belonging to quires 13 and 14 of volume II, that were cut down to a smaller size and pasted together to create pasteboard for some unidentified bookbinding, probably in the sixteenth century. About a dozen copies of the Gutenberg Bible, most of which were printed on vellum, are known only from fragmentary preservation as bookbinding materials. These cut-down paper leaves came to light when the Vienna bookdealers Gilhofer & Ranschburg offered them leaf by leaf in an auction of 3 April 1911. Two other leaves from this group are at the Library of Congress, a third is at Dartmouth College Library, and a fourth is at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney. The rubrication of the copy is simple, using only red ink.
  • [Mainz : Johann Gutenberg and Johann Fust, before August 1456].
Title sort:
  • Bible, Latin.
  • Gutenberg Bible
  • Mazarin Bible
  • Mazarine Bible
Binding note:
  • WHS copy is one of three copies bound in the workshop of Johannes Fogel of Erfurt.
  • GW 4201.
  • Goff B-526.
  • Gutenberg, Johann, 1397?-1468
  • 1456-01-01T00:00:00Z
  • 1456
  • ark:/88435/7d278t10z
  • WHS 48.1
  • WHS 113.2
  • WHS Electronic Resource
  • ELF1 48.1
  • ELF1 113.2
  • ELF1 Electronic Resource
Edm rights:
  • No Known Copyright
Electronic locations:
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