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Gutenberg and the Printing Press

Gutenberg was the son of a merchant and grew up on a large agricultural estate. Since his childhood he had seen the way wine was made by pressing the fruits. Later he learnt the art of polishing stones and became a master goldsmith. He also learnt to create lead moulds used for making trinkets.

Using all the skills he had acquired, he developed on the existing print technology and invented the first printing press in 1430s

He made moulds, using metal, for the letters of the alphabet. He used these moulds for printing. By 1448, Gutenberg perfected the printing system.

  • The first book he printed was the Bible.
  • 180 copies were printed in three years
  • Johann Gutenberg Johann Gutenberg’s Printing Press


    Features of the first printed books

  • Printed books closely resembled the written manuscripts in appearance and layout.
  • The metal letters were like the ornamental handwritten letters.
  • Borders were drawn by hand. Foliage and other patterns were painted along the borders.
  • In the books printed for the rich, space for decoration was kept blank on the printed page. Each purchaser could choose the design and decide on the painting school that would do the illustrations.
  • Between 1450 and 1550, printing presses were set up in most countries of Europe. Printers from Germany travelled to other countries, seeking work and started new presses. More and more books were produced as the number of printing Presses increased in Europe.

  • 20 million books were printed in second half of the fifteenth century
  • 200 million books were printed in sixteenth century.
  • The shift from hand printing to mechanical printing led to the print revolution.

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