The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Gutenberg, Johannes

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Edition of 1920. See also Johannes Gutenberg on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

GUTENBERG, goo'tĕn-bĕrg, Johannes or Henne, German inventor of printing with movable types: b. Mainz, about 1400; d. there, 23 Feb. 1468. Little or nothing is known of his early life. In 1434 he was living in Strassburg and in 1436 entered into a contract with one Andreas Dryzehn or Dritzehn and others, binding himself to teach them all his secret and wonderful arts, and to employ them for their common advantage. The death of Dryzehn, which happened about the end of 1438, broke off the undertaking of the company. About 1448 he returned to Mainz and soon formed a copartnership with Johann Fust or Faust, a rich goldsmith who furnished money to establish a press, in which the Latin Bible was first printed. This, the Mazarin Bible, begun about 1450 and finished about 1455, is the first book known to have been printed with movable types. After some years this connection was dissolved. Fust had made large advances, which Gutenberg was now called upon to repay; and as he either could not or would not do it, the subject was carried before the tribunals. The result was that Fust retained the press, which he improved, and continued to use in company with Peter Schöffer of Gernsheim. By the patronage of a counsellor of Mainz, Conrad Hummer, Gutenberg was again enabled to establish a press the following year, from which there issued the fine ‘Catholicon’ of 1460, and also the ‘Letters of Indulgence’ of 1454 and 1455. Gutenberg's name does not appear in any production of his press, nor do his friends and patrons mention him in connection with the invention of printing. Consult Van der Linde, ‘Gutenberg’ (1878), and ‘Geschichte der Erfindung der Buchdruckerkunst’ (1886); Hessel, ‘Gutenberg: Was He the Inventor of Printing?’ (1882); ‘Haarlem the Birthplace of Printing not Mentz’ (1887); Gordon Duff, ‘Early Printed Books’ (1893).