We are very excited that our copy of the magnificent Gutenberg Bible is on display for a limited time at the University of Melbourne as part of Melbourne Rare Book Week and the Cultural Treasures Festival. This Bible is the first book to be printed in Europe with moveable type, by Johann Gutenberg in Mainz around 1455.
The substantial two folio volumes are remarkable for the fine quality of the printing, executed with great care and attention to detail. The John Rylands Library copy is one of forty-eight substantially complete surviving copies, now housed in libraries across the world. Purchased by George John, 2nd Earl Spencer in 1790 it found its way to Manchester in 1892 when Enriqueta Rylands purchased the Spencer Collection of books. It includes original hand decorated initials at the beginning of each book and was probably at the Augustinian monastery in Colmar, northern France, in the fifteenth century.
There are no copies in Australia, or even in the southern hemisphere, and this is the second visit ‘down under’ for the John Rylands Library copy. It was previously displayed at the National Library of Australia’s exhibition ‘Treasures of the World’s Great Libraries’ in 2001.
The Bible will be on display for ten days only, from Friday 18th to Sunday 27th July. More information on the Melbourne exhibition and associated events can be found at http://library.unimelb.edu.au/gutenberg