Sunday, 12 January 2014

Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg (1400?-1468), German printer and pioneer in the use of movable type, sometimes identified as the first European to print with hand-set type cast in molds (see Printing).
Detailed records of Gutenberg's life and work are scant; his name does not appear on any of the works attributed to him. He was born around the year 1400, perhaps as early as 1394, probably in Mainz, and trained as a goldsmith. His family later settled in Strasbourg. In 1438 Gutenberg entered into a partnership with Andreas Dritzehn to conduct experiments in printing. Returning to Mainz in about 1450, Gutenberg formed another partnership, with the German merchant and moneylender Johann Fust, and set up a press on which he probably started printing the large Latin Bible associated with his name, as well as some smaller books and leaflets. The Bible, known variously as the Gutenberg Bible, Mazarin Bible, or 42-Line Bible, was completed sometime between 1450 and 1456. German printer Peter Schöffer, Fust's son-in-law and Gutenberg's apprentice, may have helped to print the work.
Fust's demands for repayment of the money he had invested in the enterprise led to a lawsuit in 1455, and Gutenberg subsequently surrendered his share of the firm. Following his break with Fust, Gutenberg continued printing, either at Mainz or in the nearby town of Eltvile. In 1462 he was exiled from Mainz during the sack of that city, but later returned. In 1465 the German statesman Adolph II, archbishop of Mainz and elector of Nassau, became Gutenberg's patron, presumably in recognition of his achievement. Gutenberg died on February 3, 1468, in his native city, where a museum re-creating his press and workshop is now maintained.

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