The Gutenberg Bible

No book has received the attention nor the acclaim as the Gutenberg Bible.  The first example of mass-produced printing by using movable type, the Gutenberg Bible is surely the rarest and most unique example of the printing art.  This two-volume (Old Testament/New Testament) Bible was first produced by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1450’s with the financial backing of Jonathan Fust.  The Bible was completed in an “edition” of between 180 and 300 two volume sets with perhaps 100 on vellum (no one is quite sure).  The great curiosity is that today only 47 are known.

I first became interested in the Gutenberg Bible when I purchased the rare book room of the Boca Grande (FL) Library in 1984.  The one rarity they would not sell was a page from an original 42 line Gutenberg Bible.  While the theory is that the remainder of Gutenberg’s “printing” has been destroyed over the centuries, I have a theory that somewhere – out there – there are copies of the Gutenberg Bible lying undiscovered, layered with dust and laced with cobwebs.  My daughter has suggested that I take a sabbatical to hunt for this treasure much as I did in the ’80’s when I was in Spain and Portugal every few months on the hunt for manuscript rarities.  I’d love it. . . . .  

The last Gutenberg Bible (Old Testament volume only) sold in 1987  for $5.5 million.  Individual leaves sell for five figures.  If and when I find a Gutenberg Bible, my next adventure will be seek out the yet undiscovered ship’s logs from that 1492 voyage of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. . . . .