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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
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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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