Page 15 - January 2014
P. 15

Tim Honnor (5578)

THE 36 LINE BIBLE ΈB36Ή                            For this bible, Gutenberg had a total of 290
                                                   different characters cast. (47 upper case, 63
The 36-line Gutenberg bible on show in the         lower case, 92 with abbreviaƟon marks, 83
museum is the most perfect copy in Europe          ligatures and five punctuaƟon marks). The text
of the second oldest printed bible in history,     was set in two columns of 42 lines. Because of
of which only fourteen examples remain in          the ligatures and abbreviaƟons, the columns
existence. It is thought that this bible was       could be set in equal widths, without altering
printed in Bamberg, probably by Albert Pfister,     the distance between the words. Thus a very
using type made by Gutenberg himself. It is        refined typographical whole came into being.
much rarer than the 42-line bible. The bible       Some 100,000 individual pieces of type were
came to Antwerp in 1514 as a giŌ from the          cast. There were probably about twenty
Nurenberg AugusƟnian monastery. In the             employees involved in the prinƟng of the B42.
late 1560s the B36 was acquired by PlanƟn,         So for those of you who have not visited the
from an unknown owner. The three parts             PlanƟn-Moretus Museum, now is the Ɵme
of the PlanƟn B36 are bound in beechwood           to do so.
coverplates, covered with pigskin that has
become dark brown. The blind stamping                                                                        15
on the front and back covers consist of a
diamond paƩern set in a triple frame. The
bronze band consists of four corner pieces
which form a point in the middle. The clasp
and lock plate are engraved. On the top edge
of the back plate is an iron eye, fiƩed with a
ring for chaining up the book. The binding was
probably done in Nurenberg.

The general opinion for many years was
that the B36 was produced first, because it
was printed using Gutenberg’s D&K leƩers.
Recently it was thought, due to comparaƟve
studies of text and paper, that the B42 is older.
However, according to the most recent study
the B36 was printed before 1461 as a date has
been found in a copy in Paris.


Between 1452 and 1455, Gutenberg, in part-
nership with Fust and Schöffer, aŌer many
long years of experimentaƟon, printed the
B42. This LaƟn bible in two parts (Old and
New Testament) is the first book printed with
such a large number of copies (180-200) using
metal type. There are 1,282 pages in each
copy. Forty-eight copies, some incomplete,
have stood the test of Ɵme. Twelve of these
are printed on parchment and thirty-six
on paper.
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