The Gutenberg Bible

3 min readMay 3

The story of “The Father of Printing”

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

It was the mid-15th century, Johannes Gutenberg, a printer from Mainz, Germany was a man on a mission. He spent years working on what is known as his invention, movable type. The concept of movable type was originally created hundreds of years prior in Asia. Most of the type back then were carved from wood and whatever else was available at that time. Gutenberg improved on these techniques using molds that were filled with lead. Each letter had its own mold. Workers were trained to pour the lead into molds and then assemble the letters into boxes called cases where they would later be picked out by a typesetter to form the words and pages. It was a tedious task yet more efficient than any other system during that period of time.

Gutenberg produced many projects with this new system. One step in the process was of course the printing part. The type was assembled, and ink was applied to the surface. Paper was then placed on top and with the help of a piece of flat wood, they tapped on the back of the paper to transfer the image to the sheet of paper. This was cumbersome and almost always left an uneven image across the sheet.

While at a winery Gutenberg was watching how they used a wine press to squeeze the grapes into wine. He became enamored with the system and thought this could be the solution he was looking for. A way to create an even impression across a sheet of paper and be less time-consuming. He began working on this new idea to invent the first printing press. Within a few months, he succeeded in creating what he imagined.

It was around 1450 when Gutenberg began to create the first printed bible. It took approximately three years, although it wasn’t seen until 1455. The timeline is not totally clear for obvious reasons or record keeping back then. What is known is how Gutenberg was able to finance his project.

Johann Furst, a wealthy businessman loaned Gutenberg a significant sum of money to fund the bible project. In exchange for the loan, Gutenberg promised Furst a share of the profits when the Bibles were sold. Eventually, the relationship between the two men soured and Furst took legal action. As a result, Gutenberg was forced to relinquish control of his shop and much of his assets, which included the printed Bibles. Despite all these…


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