Guttenberg, John

, called also Gænsfleisch de Sulgeloch, the reputed inventor of the | art of printing, was born at Mentz, of noble and wealthy parents, about 1400. In 1427 he came to reside at Strasburgh a merchant, but appears to have returned to Mentz in 1430, and to have been a man of property in 1434. Between this and the year 1439 he had conceived and perhaps made some trials of the art of printing with metal types. In the archives of the city of Mentz, Schoepflin discovered a document of a process carried on by Guttenberg against one George Dritzehen, from which we learn that the former had promised to make the latter acquainted with a secret art that he had recently discovered. In the same document mention is made of four forms kept together by two screws, or press-spindles, and of letters and pages being cut up and destroyed, to prevent any person from discovering the art. The ablest writers have, however, differed upon the subject of the materials with which Guttenberg at first printed. Schoepflin supposed them to have been metal; Fournier, Meerman, and Fischer, were of opinion that they were composed of wood. In the years 1441-2 Guttenberg lived at Strasburg, as a wealthy man, and continued in the same place till 1446, when he returned again to Mentz, and seems to have opened his mind fully tc Fust, a goldsmith of the same place (See Fust), and prevailed on him to advance large sums of money in order to make more complete trials of the art. Between 1450 and 1455, the celebrated Bible of 637 leaves, the first important specimen of printing with metal types, was executed between Guttenberg and Fust. Exclusively of the Bible, Guttenberg is supposed to have printed some other works, but there is no book whatever extant with his name subscribed. He died about the latter end of 1467. More ample information and discussion on the invention of this noble art, and the claims of Guttenberg, may be found in Oberlin’s “Essai sur les annales de la vie de Jean Gutenberg,1801; Fischer’s “Essai sur les monumens Typographiques de Gutenberg,1802, 4to Danou’s “Analyse des opinions diverses sur l’origine de Plmprimerie,1803, Svojand the better known works of Schoepflin, Meerman, Fournier, Heinecken, and Lambinet. 1


Dibdin’s Typographical Antiquities, vol. I.