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News 2015


Recast D-K type for the 36-line Bible ready
for handsetting at Lead Graffiti

The Bamberg Bible is the second printed Bible and used what was probably the earliest moveable type produced by Johann Gutenberg. Larger and somewhat cruder than the type used in the more famous 42-line Bible of c. 1455, this type was first used to print a Latin grammar book, called a "Donatus" (c. 1452-1453) and a pamphlet called the "Turken Kalendar" (c. 1455) among some similar items. This Bamberg Bible type is known as the "D-K" or "36-line Bible" type.

This was possibly the only type left in Gutenberg's possession after the lawsuit by his business partner, Johann Fust, in 1455, and it is not known if he sold the type to another printer, who then went on to produce the 36-line Bible, or if he was involved in the printing of that work himself. The book, printed in the town of Bamberg, not Mainz where Gutenberg's original workshop was located, is known as the "Bamberg Bible" and is a much larger book than its better-known predecessor owing to the larger size of the type which required more pages to contain the text.

This 36-line type was recast as moveable metal type by the late Michael Anderson, using a unique set of matrices he engraved in his workshop and foundry in Port Republic, Maryland. There are approximately 250 different letterforms in the typeface, including a large number of contractions and alternative characters.

Anderson's efforts also produced a complete 2-color lockup of a 36-line Bamberg Bible page, which we have on loan. We are hoping to be able to print it on one of our 19th-century iron handpresses. We think this would make a great graduate-level workshop in History, English, or Material Culture studies, or for Library groups, as soon as we can get all of the bugs worked out. This type will be kept in its locked-up form for the forseeable future. In addition, we also borrowed two very full California job cases of extra type which could be used to set additional pieces.

Fourteen complete, or nearly complete, copies of the Bamberg Bible are known, all on paper. The only copy (incomplete) in the United States is at the Princeton University Library. The photo below shows a closeup of Anderson's recast 36-line type.

Gutenberg D-K type