Mainz: Johann Gutenberg & Johann Fust
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan with the Theodore Irwin collection, 1900
The Morgan Library & Museum is the only institution in the world to possess three copies of the Gutenberg Bible, the first substantial book printed from movable type in the West. Nearly fifty copies survive today in varying states of completeness from an edition of around 180 copies, of which perhaps two-thirds were printed on paper, one third on vellum. One Morgan copy is on vellum, and two are on paper. All three display significant differences in composition, presswork, and decoration, distinctive features revealing the technical problems Gutenberg solved and the design decisions he made while this imposing two-volume work was in production.