The Gutenberg Bible re-published 550 years after his death | Books | DW | 23.05.2018
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Books

The Gutenberg Bible re-published 550 years after his death

Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of modern printing press, died 550 years ago. To celebrate the anniversary, a facsimile edition of the legendary Gutenberg Old Testament Bible of 1454 has been published.

The publication by Mainz scholar Stephan Füssel contains all 1,268 faithfully reproduced pages of the Gutenberg Bible and an additional 144 pages of commentary.

Michael Ebling, the Lord Mayor of Mainz, the city where the Johannes Gutenberg was born in 1400, called the facsimile edition a "salute from the city of Mainz to the world" in what has been dubbed Gutenberg Year.

Man hold up a large book (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Zschunke)

Stephan Füssel holds his facsimile edition of the Gutenberg Bible

The Gutenberg Bible is the oldest book in the world printed on moveable type, a technology that soon spread across the world. Of the 180 copies in the initial print run, 150 were printed on paper and 30 on parchment or vellum.

Read moreThe future of the book

While 49 copies of the first printing in 1454 still remain, only four of these are vellum copies that have survived in their complete form.

One of these, held at the Göttingen State and University Library, is the source of the facsimile edition just created by Stephan Füssel.

In 2000, this so-called  Göttingen copy was nominated for UNESCO Documentary Heritage as part of the "Memory of the World" program — a high resolution digitization of the Göttingen copy was also made available on the internet that year.

Gutenberg Bibles don't come cheap, with a copy selling back in 1987 at Christie's for $5.4 million (about 4.6 million euro) to a Japanese buyer — then an auction record for a printed book.

kk/sb/eg (dpa/kna)

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