David, a student in the Intro to Letterpress class today, shared with us an astonishing treasure - an original page printed on a Gutenberg press, circa 1460!!! Thank you David, for sharing this amazing piece of history.
David's framers did a bang-up job, even glazing a portion of the back so David wouldn't have to bear covering up half of this work of art.
The page is taken from a portion of the service that ordains priests (or maybe bishops? see the woodcut insert). I'm a little fuzzy on whether or not this was actually part of the Bible project, or part of a number of side projects (including "indulgences" for the church!) that Big-G had going on.
[update: my friend Diana, rare-books librarian and expert on many-things, has clarified some of the confusion - she believes this to be a page from the pontifical, the book containing the rites for performance of episcopal functions. Sayeth Di, "I think the prayer is about stripping the bishop of his power if he does wrong, not investing him; in the picture, they're meant to be removing the mitre, not installing it." Thanks, Di!]
Look at the registration! Look at the type! Look at the illuminated letters! Look at the notes in sidebar!
Here is some relevant history about Gutenberg quoted from Wikipedia:
By 1450, the press was most likely in operation, and a German poem had been printed, possibly the first item to be printed there. Gutenberg was able to convince the wealthy moneylender Johan Fust for a loan of 800 guilders. Peter Schoeffer, who became Fust's son-in-law, also joined the enterprise. Shoeffer had worked as a scribe in Paris and designed some of the first typefaces.Okay, so the page you see here was printed with Gutenberg's type, on Gutenberg's press, however, it was done after Gutenberg had been booted out of the picture.
It is not clear when Gutenberg conceived the Bible project, but for this he borrowed another 800 guilders from Fust, and work commenced in 1452.
Sometime in 1455, there was a dispute between Gutenberg and Fust, and Fust demanded his money back, accusing Gutenberg of embezzling funds. Meanwhile the expenses of the Bible project had proliferated, and Gutenberg's debt now exceeded 2,000 guilders. Fust sued at the archbishop's court. A November 1455 legal document records that there was a partnership for a "project of the books," the funds for which Gutenberg had used for other purposes, according to Fust. The court decided in favour of Fust, giving him control over the Bible printing workshop and half of all printed Bibles.
Holy holy holy! Gutenberg!