Answered By: Laura Sider
Last Updated: Mar 09, 2017     Views: 650

Q: What is the history of the Beinecke Library's copy of the Gutenberg Bible?
Answered by: Laura Sider

The Gutenberg Bible was first printed around 1455. It is bound in two volumes. Some copies of the Bible were printed on vellum, but ours is one that was printed on paper, which would have been the less expensive option at the time.

The earliest known owner of our copy was the Austrian Benedictine Monastery of Melk. We are unsure of its history before it came to the Abbey. The Abbey sold it in 1925 to a London bookseller for about 9800 pounds.  In 1926 the bible was purchased by Abraham Rosenbach in New York, who then sold it to Mary Harkness for about $120,000.  Mrs. Harkness then donated the two volumes to Yale in memory of her mother-in-law, Anna Harkness.

You may be interested in a podcast the Beinecke produced about the Gutenberg, which can be accessed here:
http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/about/podcasts.  (You will need to scroll down to see the link.) You can also view our catalog record for the Gutenberg at this address: http://hdl.handle.net/10079/bibid/3391099 .  You will need to click on "long view" in the top center of the screen to view the complete description.  Finally, there is an online census of Gutenberg Bibles at http://clausenbooks.com/gutenbergcensus.htm

 

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