Skip to comments.Gutenberg Printing Method Questioned
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.
Paging Dan Rather!
coming soon: reparations lawsuits.
Lol! That is what this reminded me of.
This article is crap. Gutenberg could easily have used an IBM Selectric Executive, with proportional, movable (golf-ball) type, and . . . . aw, hell. Nevermind.
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?
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.
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."
everyone knows that Algore invented the Gutenberg Press.
Then he had to have created his type in reverse or used a blanket.
Oh, wait. Never mind.
O.K. so he skipped moveable type and invented the offset printing plate.
Were you a linotype operator?
Strange. Why is this hosted on a Russian website?
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!
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