The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford and the Vatican Library have joined together to digitize their collection of ancient texts. One of these (perhaps the most important, in my opinion) is the Gutenberg Bible, the first major book created using movable type.
This epoch-making book was the work of Johann Gutenberg (c. 1398-1468), a goldsmith from Mainz. Printing probably began in 1454, and was completed by March 1455. Fewer than fifty copies survive today, and the Bodleian’s copy is one of only seven complete examples in the British Isles. It is no surprise that the first substantial book produced in the West using metal type should be the Bible. Not only was it the primary text of medieval Europe, it was also, in its Latin form, the most international. Sufficient sales of even such a lavish and expensive production as Gutenberg’s Bible could therefore be guaranteed. Indeed, all copies were sold before printing was complete.
A long time ago, I made my way to the British Museum to see a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. It has since moved on, but it left an indelible impression on me. Here’s a link to the digitized version of the Gutenberg Bible. Simply fantastic. Really happy to see this scan made public.