Disbinding a book and distributing its pages across the world often lessens its impact and collectability. But when that book is a bible published by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1450s using his metal-type printing press, the individual pages resulting from such destruction become invaluable pieces of history. This leaf came to Lehigh as a result of bookseller Gabriel Wells purchasing a damaged and incomplete Gutenberg Bible from collector Joseph Sabin in 1920. By breaking the bible into individual pages, Wells was able to help some institutions complete Gutenberg bibles in their collections and allowed others to own a part of Western printing’s modern origin. Lehigh’s leaf, chapters XV and XVI of Maccabees, is otherwise unremarkable and can be found in a variety of languages across centuries of bibles. Lehigh holds a number of other books printed in the 15th century, but all of these incunables trace their history back to Mainz, Germany and Gutenberg’s press.
A Noble Fragment, Being a Leaf of the Gutenberg Bible, 1450-1455: with a Bibliographical Essay by A. Edward Newton. New York: Gabriel Wells, 1921.
Lehigh University Catalog Record: https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/255953