Published: December 12, 2000
A leaf from the Gutenberg Bible will be offered for sale on Sotheby’s.com this holiday season, with an estimated sale price of $30/50,000. The Gutenberg Bible was printed in 1454-55, and it was the first substantial European book produced in moveable type.
The leaf for sale is part of an incomplete copy that was acquired by a New York bookseller, Gabriel Wells, in a Sotheby’s sale in 1920. Wells sold the bulk of his Gutenberg Bible as individual leaves. The leaf for sale is considered to be in fine condition and contains the opening verses of Isaiah 11, an Old Testament prophecy of the birth of Jesus as the Messiah.
“The invention of printing in Europe around 1450 was, even in its own day, revolutionary,” says Sotheby’s senior vice president for books and manuscripts, Marsha Malinowski.
Malinowski also says selling a leaf from the first printing press of moveable type is extraordinary, and combining this invention with a sale on the Internet combines two great revolutions in the dissemination of knowledge.
The Gutenberg Bible is recognized as the first fully perfected achievement of a work printed with moveable type by its inventor, Johann Gutenberg of Mainz, Germany. There are only 48 copies of the Gutenberg Bible in existence today, many in varying states of completeness.
Bidding for the fragment will continue through December 20.
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