Explore seven fascinating facts about one of the rarest and most influential books in world history.While the Gutenberg Bible helped introduce printing to the West, the process was already well established in other parts of the world.In it, he raves that the Bibles are “exceedingly clean and correct in their script, and without error, such as Your Excellency could read effortlessly without glasses.” Thanks to their obvious quality, the Bibles all sold before Gutenberg and Fust had even finished printing them.Some copies supposedly went for around 30 Florins—an enormous sum at the time.Its popularity signaled a global revolution for the written word.Books previously had to be laboriously copied by hand, yet only a half-century after the Gutenberg Bible became the world’s first printed bestseller, millions of different volumes were flying off presses across Europe.
The Jikji was first published in 1377, some 75 years before Johannes Gutenberg began churning out his Bibles in Mainz, Germany.
Chinese artisans were pressing ink onto paper as early as the second century A.
D., and by the 800s, they had produced full-length books using wooden block printing. Sometime around the mid-11th century, a Chinese alchemist named Pi Sheng developed a system of individual character types made from a mixture of baked clay and glue.
The Soviets denied any knowledge of the missing Bibles’ whereabouts until the 1980s, when it was revealed that they were being held in libraries in Moscow.
Since then, the German government has made several unsuccessful attempts to secure their return.