A Leaf from the Gutenberg Bible of 1455
The First Book Printed with Moveable Type
“A Noble Fragment” Leaf book of Gabriel Wells
[Bible in Latin.] A Noble Fragment Being a Leaf of the Gutenberg Bible [device: 1450-1455] With a Bibliographical Essay by A. Edward Newton. New York: Gabriel Wells, 1921.
Original leaf (from I Samuel) and letterpress presented in a full blue-black morocco portfolio, gilt on top board. Spine worn, else fine.
The first substantial book ever printed in the West was — appropriately — the most important book ever written: The Holy Bible (Biblia Sacra). Johann Gutenberg, inventor of the art and craft of printing with moveable type began his Bible around 1452, probably completing it in Mainz, Germany in 1455, with his partners on the project, Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer. The text was the standard Vulgate Latin of Saint Jerome, the Biblia Latina. This work is known among bibliographers as “The 42-line Bible.” The first book ever printed remains one of the most beautiful books ever printed, a testimony to the meticulous care and artistry that Johann Gutenberg applied to the work.
Darlow & Moule 6076. Copinger 1. Hain 3031.
This original 1455 Gutenberg Bible Leaf is part of the famous “Noble Fragment” of Gutenberg Bible leaves which were each paired with a lovely black leather presentation folio and sold to collectors in the 1920’s. The men behind that effort a century ago, A. Edward Newton and Gabriel Wells, have both personally provided hand written and signed notes in this Gutenberg leaf’s accompanying presentation folio. The notes are written to George Sargent, the first individual owner, whose bookplate is also provided showing him as a previous owner.
This is not merely a Noble Fragment leaf… it is an “Association Copy” V.I.P. Noble Fragment leaf, signed by everyone involved!
And the provenance of this leaf gets even better, as it was then purchased by the Doheny Estate and bears the sticker of the Estelle Doheny collection. Doheny was a noted collector of Gutenberg material. Sold at the Doheny Estate Auction, it was purchased by an agent for The Bible Museum, sold again to one of the top ten antique Bible collectors in the United States, and upon the liquidation of his estate, it is now again offered by The Bible Museum.