In about 1440, Johannes Gutenberg is credited with the invention of modern movable type printing from individually cast, reusable letters set together in a form (frame or chase). He also invented a wooden printing press, based on the extant wine press, where the type surface was inked with leather covered ink balls and paper laid carefully on top by hand, then slid under a padded surface and pressure applied from above by a large threaded screw. Later metal presses used a knuckle and lever arrangement instead of the screw, but the principle was the same. Ink rollers made of composition made inking faster and paved the way for further automation.
With the advent of industrial mechanisation, the inking was carried out by rollers which would pass over the face of the type and move out of the way onto a separate ink plate where they would pick up a fresh film of ink for the following sheet. Meanwhile, a sheet of paper was slid against a hinged platen (see image) which was then rapidly pressed onto the type and swung back again to have the sheet removed and the next sheet inserted (during which operation the now freshly inked rollers would run over the type again). Fully automated, 20th-century presses, such as the Kluge and "Original" Heidelberg Platen (the "Windmill"), incorporated pneumatic feed and delivery of the sheet.Historically, letterpress was the process by which everything from church documents to newspapers were printed en masse. In the 15th Century, it was the German Johannes Gutenburg who invented moveable type and the printing press. Individual letters were carved out of blocks of wood and organized into rows of coherent text. These 'plates' were then pressed into sheets of paper, printing a individual page. After the necessary copies of the page were printed, the letters were rearranged for subsequent pages and the process was repeated. In 1812, Friedrich Koenig invented the cylindrical press which sped up the printing process considerably.
What is the Gutenberg Bible?
Before Gutenberg, every book produced in Europe had to be copied by hand. (Although the Chinese had been mass producing books since the ninth century.) Now it was possible to speed up the process without sacrificing quality. We know for certain about this first printed Bible from a letter of 12 March 1455. On that day Enea Silvio Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II, reported that in Frankfurt, the year before, a marvellous man had been promoting the Bible. Piccolomini had seen parts of it and it had such neat lettering that one could read it without glasses. Every copy had been sold.
Why are they both important?
Gutenberg's invention did not make him rich, but it laid the foundation for the commercial mass production of books. The success of printing meant that books soon became cheaper, and ever wider parts of the population could afford them. More than ever before, it enabled people to follow debates and take part in discussions of matters that concerned them. As a consequence, the printed book also led to more stringent attempts at censorship. This was a sign that it was felt by those in authority to be dangerous and challenging to their position.
The Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the B42) was the first major book printed with movable type in the West and the first major book produced on a printing press anywhere in the world. It marked the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of the printed book in the West. Widely praised for its high aesthetic and artistic qualities, the book has an iconic status. It is an edition of the Vulgate, printed byJohannes Gutenberg, in Mainz, Germany, in the 1450s. Forty-eight copies, or substantial portions of copies, survive, and they are considered by many sources to be the most valuable books in the world, even though a complete copy has not been sold since 1978. The 36-line Bible is also sometimes referred to as a Gutenberg Bible, but is likely the work of another printer.
The Gutenberg Bible is printed in the blackletter type styles that would become known as Textualis (Textura) and Schwabacher. The name texture refers to the texture of the printed page: straight vertical strokes combined with horizontal lines, giving the impression of a woven structure. Gutenberg already used the technique of justification, that is, creating a vertical, not indented, alignment at the left and right-hand sides of the column. To do this, he used various methods, including using characters of narrower widths, adding extra spaces around punctuation, and varying the widths of spaces around words. On top of this, he subsequently let punctuation marks go beyond that vertical line, called Hanging punctuation, thereby using the massive black characters to make this justification stronger to the eye.