Early Imprints

Musings

As an antiquarian bookseller, I have occasion to own, at least temporarily, a number of very old books. Today I thought I would feature some of these, and give a bit of background about the significance of early printed works.

Many reading this already know that the first major book produced in the West using movable type was the Gutenberg Bible, published in the 1450s. This was a huge achievement in the world of printing, and led to the rapid adoption of Gutenberg’s style of printing press. The change in speed and range of mass communication make this one of the most important occurrences in modern history, comparable to the advent of the internet in the number of possibilities it opened up.

Up to this point, books were reproduced either by manuscript (i.e., copied by hand), or by woodblock print. Both were very time-consuming, and thus implicitly limited the…

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