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The First Printed Book

Posted by axis-publishing on September 11, 2009 at 12:59 PM

A Gutenberg Bible in the collection of the U.S. Library of Congress

The first attempts at mechanical printing featured each page carved in reverse on a solid block of wood which was then pressed against the paper.  But the blocks quickly broke and new letters would have to be carved and glued into position.  From this state of affairs came the idea of carving each letter seperately.  This movable type could be easily assembled to form each page of a book and if produced in metal the letters would last for many impressions.

Several printers in Europe were working on these ideas but in 1450 Johann Gutenberg was keen enough to borrow money from Johann Faust to perfect his conception of a printing press.  But when no book had been printed from Gutenberg's press five years later, Faust sued for his money and bankrupted Gutenberg.  Then, with Peter Schoeffer, a type designer, Faust brought out the first printed book in Mainz, Germany, in 1456.  But Gutenberg had the last word in the matter.  The book is known as the Gutenberg Bible.

Categories: Books

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