Arch. B b.11

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.

For more information, please see the catalogue record for this holding. Please also see volume 1


Biblia Latina [42 lines]. Imprint: [Mainz: Printer of the 42-line Bible (Johann Gutenberg and Peter Schoeffer), c.1455]. Folio. Collation: Vol. 1: [a–i 10k 10+1l m 10n 6+1o–z A 10B C 10+1D–I 10K 4] [324 numbered leaves in Bodleian copy]; vol. 2: [a–p 10q 10+1r–z A–C 10D 12E 10+1F G 10H 4+1I 10] [319 numbered leaves in Bodleian copy]. Binding: Eighteenth-century French gold-tooled green morocco. Provenance: Erhard Neninger (c.1420-1475), Mayor of Heilbronn; presented by him to the Carmelites of Heilbronn not later than 1474. Presented by the city of Heilbronn to Axel Oxenstierna (1583-1654) in 1633. Purchased for £100.