Hidden Treasures: Page of History

Gutenburg BibleIt doesn’t look that old, but a single page from a Gutenberg Bible containing a passage from Ezekiel is the earliest piece of print material in Gould Library’s Special Collections.

Turns out that the 100 percent rag paper and oil-based black ink used to print the Gutenberg Bible wears far better than most papers and inks in use today.

Fewer than 200 copies of the most famous Bible in the world were printed in Mainz, Germany, between 1450 and 1455. “Gutenberg wasn’t trying to make the Bibles better [than handwritten versions], just faster so he could make money,” says Kristi Wermager, curator of special collections, “but the venture wasn’t that successful—he died bankrupt and anonymous.”

Only 48 copies exist today, and not all of them are complete. In the 1920s a New York book dealer bought a damaged copy, dismantled it, and sold sections and individual leaves to book collectors and libraries. Minneapolis attorney and former Carleton trustee Robert J. Flanagan donated one of the leaves to Carleton in 1952. At the time it was valued at $500; leaves sell today for $20,000 to $100,000 depending on the condition and desirability of the page.

Add a comment

The following fields are not to be filled out. Skip to Submit Button.
(This is here to trap robots. Don't put any text here.)
(This is here to trap robots. Don't put any text here.)
(This is here to trap robots. Don't put any text here.)