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Gutenberg Printing Method Questioned
Discovery Channel ^ | 11-12-2004 | Rossella Lorenzi

Posted on 11/14/2004 4:43:31 PM PST by blam

Gutenberg Printing Method Questioned

By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

Nov. 12, 2004 — Johannes Gutenberg may be wrongly credited with producing the first Western book printed in movable type, according to an Italian researcher.

Presenting his findings in a mock trial of Gutenberg at the recent Festival of Science in Genoa, Bruno Fabbiani, an expert in printing who teaches at Turin Polytechnic, said the 15th-century German printer used stamps rather than the movable type he is said to have invented between 1452 and 1455.

Overlapping Letters in the Gutenberg Bible

Gutenberg and His Bible

Gutenberg (c.1397-1468), whose real name was Johannes Gensfleisch, is credited with inventing a mold for small metal blocks with raised letters on them. The blocks could be put together to form words.

After a page was printed, the type could be reused for printing other pages.

With this method, Gutenberg is said to have printed an edition of about 180 copies — of which only 48 exist today — of the 42-line bible, so called for the number of lines in each printed column.

The invention produced a literary boom in Europe.

According to Fabbiani, Gutenberg printed his bible not with movable type, but with a brilliant metallographic invention.

After scrutinizing an original page of the 42-line bible, Fabbiani noticed that some letters were slightly superimposed.

"Movable type are metal blocks, sort of parallelepipeds put together, one attached to another, to form words. With this method, it is practically impossible for type to be superimposed," Fabbiani said.

Instead, Gutenberg used keys similar to those on a typewriter, according to Fabbiani.

"Just think of something like the keys of a typing machine, but bigger of course. Using them, a character after another, a line after another, Gutenberg impressed a metal plate until he created a page and printed it. With this method, it is quite likely that some imperfection such as the slightly superimposing type, occurred," Fabbiani said.

The researcher devised and showed 30 experiments at the trial that would indicate Gutenberg did not use moveable type.

The claim caused uproar among academics. Some researchers simply dismissed Fabbiani's experiments as a stunt.

Eva Hanebutt-Benz, director of the Gutenberg Museum in the German town of Mainz, where Gutenberg was born, told reporters that there are "many open questions" on how Gutenberg produced the Bible as no documents exist from the printer's workshop. But she was strongly skeptical about Fabbiani's claim.

Other experts were intrigued.

"This is very important and credible research. We should not be afraid to destroy the myths, " Francesco Pirella of Genoa's Museum of Print told Discovery News.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ggg; godsgravesglyphs; gutenberg; gutenbergbible; method; printing; questioned

1 posted on 11/14/2004 4:43:31 PM PST by blam
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To: SunkenCiv

GGG Ping.


2 posted on 11/14/2004 4:44:21 PM PST by blam
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To: blam

Paging Dan Rather!


3 posted on 11/14/2004 4:45:14 PM PST by Petronski (Okay, so today I *am* cranky.)
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To: blam

coming soon: reparations lawsuits.


4 posted on 11/14/2004 4:47:00 PM PST by the invisib1e hand (if a man lives long enough, he gets to see the same thing over and over.)
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To: Petronski

Lol! That is what this reminded me of.


5 posted on 11/14/2004 4:49:36 PM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: the invisib1e hand
Next thing you know, they'lll be saying Columbus wasn't the first to discover America! D@mn Revisionists!

[/SARCASM]

6 posted on 11/14/2004 4:50:05 PM PST by 50sDad ( ST3d - Star Trek Tri-D Chess! http://my.oh.voyager.net/~abartmes)
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To: the invisib1e hand

This article is crap. Gutenberg could easily have used an IBM Selectric Executive, with proportional, movable (golf-ball) type, and . . . . aw, hell. Nevermind.


7 posted on 11/14/2004 4:51:10 PM PST by Petronski (Okay, so today I *am* cranky.)
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To: Anti-Bubba182
Instead, Gutenberg used keys similar to those on a typewriter, according to Fabbiani.

Clearly Alien technology, stolen from the Aztechs, who invented geometry, and were black!

Seriously, is this clown saying "typesetting machine", of the type that Mark Twain went broke investing in two centuries ago, and couldn't get invented with 1800's tech, much less Medeval tech?

8 posted on 11/14/2004 4:53:38 PM PST by 50sDad ( ST3d - Star Trek Tri-D Chess! http://my.oh.voyager.net/~abartmes)
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To: blam
It's been long established that the very same 13th Century Korean noblemen invented moveable type, printed money and practical gunpowder (with rockets) but this beats all ~ Gutenberg actually invented KERNING!

This process was all but abandoned for the next 500 years until the development of photocomposition equipment.

Today kerning is commonly available with all word processing software.

Kerning was in the news recently when it was demonstrated that certain documents in the possession of Dan Rather of CBS news had been forged ~ after all, typewriters, an application of the moveable type concept, did not allow for kerning in the early 1970s.

9 posted on 11/14/2004 4:57:42 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: blam

I've done plenty of research on Gutenberg myself (we own one of the original Gutenberg Bibles here at the University of Texas!)

What this "researcher" fails to mention is that Gutenberg would have whole words for the more common words, so he could easily place them without having to pick out every letter. He would have the Italian equivalents of our "the" and "and" and other such common words, so as to save on time. That could explain the overlaying letters. As the pictures show, you can only see two letters, so we have no idea what words they belong to.

Smells like a "researcher" just trying to grab some attention from "controversy."


10 posted on 11/14/2004 4:59:06 PM PST by Zeppelin (Going to war without the French is like going hunting without an accordian.)
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To: Petronski; 50sDad; All

everyone knows that Algore invented the Gutenberg Press.


11 posted on 11/14/2004 4:59:29 PM PST by the invisib1e hand (if a man lives long enough, he gets to see the same thing over and over.)
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To: blam
Being a printer who learned typesetting using "foundry" type, where each letter is an individual piece of lead alloy, I can tell you it is very possible to duplicate the appearance of overlapping letters. (You can even do it using MicroSoft Word and a laser printer, Dan.) The problem is the height of the letters. If the character on the left is taller than the character next to it, it will not allow the character on the right to accept ink or make the necessary impression on the paper. I put a piece of paper next to the straight line on the right character, and it does not seem to overlap. It is an optical illusion.
Let's rewrite history once again.
12 posted on 11/14/2004 5:00:41 PM PST by HalfAMind (United we stand, democratic we fall.)
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To: blam
I'll reserve judgment till I hear from Buckhead.
13 posted on 11/14/2004 5:00:59 PM PST by ProudVet77 (Just say NO to blue states.)
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To: blam
Using them, a character after another, a line after another, Gutenberg impressed a metal plate until he created a page and printed it.

Then he had to have created his type in reverse or used a blanket.

14 posted on 11/14/2004 5:04:17 PM PST by primeval patriot
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To: primeval patriot

Oh, wait. Never mind.


15 posted on 11/14/2004 5:05:45 PM PST by primeval patriot
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To: blam
I just discovered the Wyclif Bible, written circa 1395. It's written in Middle English, which I absolutely love. I'm already up to Chapter 16. Enjoy!

Wyclif Bible, 1395

16 posted on 11/14/2004 5:07:19 PM PST by my_pointy_head_is_sharp
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To: blam

O.K. so he skipped moveable type and invented the offset printing plate.


17 posted on 11/14/2004 5:12:54 PM PST by primeval patriot
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To: HalfAMind

Were you a linotype operator?


18 posted on 11/14/2004 5:17:03 PM PST by primeval patriot
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To: my_pointy_head_is_sharp
I just discovered the Wyclif Bible, written circa 1395. It's written in Middle English

Strange. Why is this hosted on a Russian website?

19 posted on 11/14/2004 5:17:28 PM PST by Paleo Conservative (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Arlen Specter's got to go!)
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To: primeval patriot
You are probably correct. One of the more interesting devices I've seen are pages of Buddha's favorite sermons which are produced by inking over a stone into which the words are carved, then pressing a piece of paper to them.

If I recall the program about that, this process was created in the 1100's or therebouts as a means of eliminating dispute over what Buddha actually said.

Printed money was done pretty much the same way but with moveable type used to provide "chops" for the current authorizing official.

What they DID NOT INVENT way back when was the Xerographically produced photo-litho offset sheet which was then used to produce a couple of reems of cutsheet information of great interest to people all over the place.

At least I don't think early printers did that, but who knows. First kerning, now offset plates? Dollars to doughnuts a guy named Schmidlapp invented the multi-stage rocket in the 1600s!

20 posted on 11/14/2004 5:20:42 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: primeval patriot

We still have an Intertype machine we use for letterpress printing. Very similar to a Linotype.


21 posted on 11/14/2004 5:20:50 PM PST by HalfAMind (United we stand, democratic we fall.)
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To: blam

Is that damned kerning going to expose Gutenberg, too?


22 posted on 11/14/2004 5:21:00 PM PST by Blood of Tyrants (God is not a Republican. But Satan is definitely a Democrat.)
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To: blam

BTTT


23 posted on 11/14/2004 5:22:52 PM PST by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: my_pointy_head_is_sharp
Interesting.

"CAP 1 1 In the bigynnyng God made of nouyt heuene and erthe. 2 Forsothe the erthe was idel and voide, and derknessis weren on the face of depthe; and the Spiryt of the Lord was borun on the watris.
3 And God seide, Liyt be maad, and liyt was maad. 4 And God seiy the liyt, that it was good, and he departide the liyt fro derknessis; and he clepide the liyt, 5 dai, and the derknessis, nyyt. And the euentid and morwetid was maad, o daie.
6 And God seide, The firmament be maad in the myddis of watris, and departe watris fro watris.
7 And God made the firmament, and departide the watris that weren vndur the firmament fro these watris that weren on the firmament; and it was don so.
8 And God clepide the firmament, heuene. And the euentid and morwetid was maad, the secounde dai.
9 Forsothe God seide, The watris, that ben vndur heuene, be gaderid in to o place, and a drie place appere; and it was doon so."

24 posted on 11/14/2004 5:24:34 PM PST by blam
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To: blam

I thought the Chinese invented printing a couple of Centuries earlier, Chinese guy named Al Chin Gore Guy (Means stick of wood, I think)

"Marco Polo Reports, You Decide"


25 posted on 11/14/2004 5:32:20 PM PST by TexasTransplant (It is UNAmerican to put the UN before America)
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To: 50sDad
Seriously, is this clown saying "typesetting machine", of the type that Mark Twain went broke investing in two centuries ago, and couldn't get invented with 1800's tech, much less Medeval tech?

No, I think he's saying that instead of making blocks of raised letters, then clamping them together in a row to make a line of type, he had blocks of *recessed* letters, and individually stamped them into a plate (presumably with a hammer) in order to leave raised letters on the plate. The plate was then used as the printing plate.

The end result would be a manual version of what typesetting machines do automatically, but it would still be manual.

26 posted on 11/14/2004 5:35:30 PM PST by Ichneumon ("...she might as well have been a space alien." - Bill Clinton, on Hillary, "My Life", p. 182)
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To: TexasTransplant
Unfotunately the Chinese are given credit for things invented during the period of Mongol supremacy simply because Western researchers have failed to distinguish among the Chinese, the Mongols and the Koreans.

Still, the multi-stage rocket was invented by Schmidlapp, not some unknown Mongolian Chinese Korean.

27 posted on 11/14/2004 5:38:03 PM PST by muawiyah
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To: Buckhead
Can you clear this up for us?

You were the first one I thought about with this story. LOL

28 posted on 11/14/2004 5:42:58 PM PST by perfect stranger
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To: HalfAMind

Did you try both examples? The left one is awfully close, though I agree, it alone is not very convincing evidence. (Former editor, but typography was only a hobby, and I wasn't a Linotype operator.)


29 posted on 11/14/2004 6:11:30 PM PST by Gondring (They can have my Bill of Rights when they pry it from my cold, dead hands!)
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To: Paleo Conservative

I hadn't noticed that. But on further digging, I see that they are selling CD roms of old English translations of the Bible, as well as Russian versions.


30 posted on 11/14/2004 6:18:32 PM PST by my_pointy_head_is_sharp
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To: blam

Next they'll be telling me Al Gore didn't invent the internet either.....

Sheesh.....

;-)


31 posted on 11/14/2004 6:37:55 PM PST by festus (Imperialism Shall Rise Again)
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To: muawiyah
"Unfotunately the Chinese are given credit for things invented during the period of Mongol supremacy simply because Western researchers have failed to distinguish among the Chinese, the Mongols and the Koreans."

That is still occuring today.

32 posted on 11/14/2004 9:10:16 PM PST by blam
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; SunkenCiv; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; 4ConservativeJustices; ...
Finally, the GGG ping. Sorry for today's volume, but I'm finally able to catch up.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

33 posted on 11/16/2004 11:12:05 AM PST by SunkenCiv ("All I have seen teaches me trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Emerson)
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To: blam

Hey at least police academy was a good movie, and you can't take that away from this guy.


34 posted on 11/16/2004 11:18:19 AM PST by escapefromboston (manny ortez: MVP)
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To: blam

I read that Koreans were the first to invent pirnting.


35 posted on 11/16/2004 2:17:42 PM PST by Ptarmigan (Proud rabbit hater and killer)
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To: my_pointy_head_is_sharp

middle english....neat!


36 posted on 11/16/2004 7:14:48 PM PST by Chani
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To: blam

That's a copy!


37 posted on 11/16/2004 9:19:11 PM PST by Henchman (BORK SPECTER. Email your friends and relatives. PLEASE do it now!)
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