First Copies of the Gutenberg Bible

The Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the B42) was one of the first books printed in Europe.

It is an edition of the Vulgate, printed by Johannes Gutenberg, in Mainz, Germany in the 1450s. Although it was not Gutenberg's first work, it was his major achievement, and has iconic status in the West as the book that marks the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of the printed book.

The 36 Line Bible is also sometimes referred to as a Gutenberg Bible, but may be the work of another printer.

Between 1450 and 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was completed. Early documentation states that a total of 200 copies were scheduled to be printed on rag cotton linen paper, and 30 copies on velum animal skin. It is not known exactly how many copies were actually printed. Today, only 22 copies are known to exist, of which 7 are on velum.

If an entire Gutenberg Bible should become available on the world market, it would likely fetch an estimated 100 million dollars! Even an individual leaf (a single two-sided page) from the original Gutenberg Bible can fetch around $100,000. Gutenberg’s work is the most rare and valuable printed material in the world.