His Life

Page 2 of 3



Although nothing concrete is known about Gutenberg's education, as the son of a patrician, he in all probability must have at least attended a Latin school. Excellent proficiency in Latin was imperative to inventing such an epoch-making device, respectively, to being able to tackle such an ambitious undertaking as printing the Latin Vulgate Bible. After completing the Latin school, many sons of patricians went on to study at the university in Erfurt. This could also hold true for Gutenberg: in 1418/1419 a certain Johannes de Alta villa (Eltville) was immatriculated at the University of Erfurt.


Biografie Teil 2
  In 1428 Gutenberg left Mainz once again. This time the city was on the verge of bankruptcy and the guilds took over. It is certain that from 16 January 1430 on, Gutenberg no longer resided in Mainz. Gutenberg's name doesn't appear in documents in Strassburg until 1434. There he tutored a citizen of Strassburg in "the polishing and grinding of precious stones" an indication that he was a master goldsmith. He also participated in an enterprise which manufactured pilgrim's mirrors for a pilgrimage to Aachen to 1440. Pilgrims hoped to catch some of the blessed light from the relics with these salvation mirrors and thus catch the power of the relics and take this home with them. Manufacturing these popular mirrors which were made of a lead-tin alloy definitely required knowledge of casting - thus providing an initial opportunity for Gutenberg to hone the skills he would require for his future enterprise. Holzschnitt

Goldsmith, woodcut by J. Amman, 1568 (detail)