Gutenberg's Epoch-Making Achievement

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Gutenberg's accomplishment in inventing letterpress printing was his development of a process involving a number of different production steps using the above mentioned techniques. The fundamental principles of his technical innovation lie in the following aspects:

The division of the text into its smallest components, the 26 letters of the alphabet.


The development of a process which allowed individual letters to be cast with the appropriate metal alloy and which enabled precise adjustment of the mold to guarantee the uniformity of the type.


The use of screw presses to press the dyed type-area onto the moist paper.

The use of metal increased the durability of the letters, the simplication of the production of letters made it possible to produce several thousand letters which were identical to the original letter. If a number of copies of a sheet was printed, the letters could be taken apart and reassembled in a different constellation. The imprints produced by the screw press were uniform and stable.

What is remarkable is that this manufacturing method, which was used to print the 42-line Bible - of which the Göttingen Bible is an example -, was used practically unchanged for the next 350 years.

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Letterpress Printing