Early Mainz Printing Used as Binding Waste

The Gutenberg Bible held no particular significance for 16thand 17thcentury churchmen and scholars. Falling into disuse, these old Bibles were lost, stored away, or recycled as binding waste. This German law manual of 1666 (left), acquired by Princeton University in 2017, shows the handiwork of a 17thcentury bookbinder who cut up a discarded Gutenberg Bible to create an inexpensive vellum cover. Not until the 1700s did historians reconnect the 42-line Bible with Gutenberg and the origins of European printing.

The vellum strips glued inside the German binding of Princeton’s 1483 Venice edition of Horace (right), also acquired in 2017, are the only known Mainz Donatusfragments still intact within the binding that utilized them. Printed in the 1460s with the Gutenberg Bible types and one of Fust and Schoeffer’s Psalter initials, this copy of Donatusserved as a schoolbook for only a few years before it was discarded as binding waste.