Keywords: Gutenberg

Guiding concepts/questions:

  • How was Gutenberg affected by the zeitgeist of his time and place?
  • How was Gutenberg affected by his family and other personal life circumstances?
  • How does Zeitgeist of the Late Medieval/Early Renaissance influence design development?

Additional Resource Links:

Johannes Gutenburg

Chapter 6

Nuremberg Chronicles

Gutenberg Bible of the New York Public Library...

Gutenberg Bible of the New York Public Library. Bought by Lenox in 1847, it was the first to come to the USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The impact of Gutenberg on the past five hundred years of civilization compared to Steven Jobs and the present digital revolution in communication—still in it’s infancy.—Gutenberg the Geek

Gutenberg 1

Gutenberg 2

Foundry Type

History of Printing


Ars.moriendi.pride.a  ars moriendi

Beater: the person who inks the forme

Bed: The horizontal carriage of the upright printing press, in which the chase or tray containing the letters is securely placed.

Image-5  colophon

Composing Stick: Originally a wooden tray held in the hand and filled letter by letter by the compositor.

Compositor: the person who sets the type

zeroimage  Copperplate engraving

maxresdefault  Diamond Sutra

Forme: a completed section of lines, usually a page, either tied or held by pressure in a frame that is placed in the bed of the press for printing.

Johann_Fust00  Johann Fust

johannes_gutenberg518x650  Gutenberg

42-line-bible1  42-line Bible (Gutenberg Bible)

Hand-Caster: an ingenious hand-held device that clamps the matrix in its base, allowing a typefounder to pour molten metal in an upper hole to cast a letter.

Inkball: A stuffed leather ball set in a wooden handle. Used in pairs to spread the ink onto the letters. Said to have been made of poreless dog’s tongues and cured in urine.

996389708  Mainz, Germany

Matrix: the mold, now usually copper, that is made when the punch is driven into it with a mallet. Other metals or even clay or sand may early have served as matrices or molds.

The-Elemental-Compositions-of-Metal-Alloys-Aug-15  metal alloy


Unknown  Parchment

Platen: The flat block or surface that puts pressure on the inked letters, transferring the ink from letters to paper. In wooden presses this hung from the press’s top bar and was dropped by means of a lever.

Pressman: the person who operates the press

Proof: Printed text, images, figures, etc. used to check for errors and other issues prior to production printing. In medieval era letters were coated with lampblack from a candle and checked; hence the term “soot proof.”

Punch: a tempered steel shaft on which each letter of a given font is carved.

Quire: A folded gathering of printed sheets. Five sheets which when folded make 20 pages are called a quinternion

Recto: The right side of a leaf, having an odd-numbered page or folio.

Peter Schoeffer  Peter Schoeffer


zunftbaum-pole-showing-the-guild-signs-of-trade-guilds-speyer-rheinland-c99rrt  trade guild

Type case: a large wooden case divided into scores of compartments, one for each sort of letter to be set into lines.

gutenberg_typemaking  type mold and matrix

typography-logo-design  Typography

vellum1  Vellum

Verso: The left side of a leaf, having an even-numbered page or folio

images  Watermark


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