Outstanding work of workshop of Master Gutenberg. The most perfect facsimile in the history of one of the most valuable surviving copies of the first printed book in the world. A masterpiece of printing art.
The most valuable Polish Book published today - an excellent copy of the Gutenberg Bible in Pelplin. The last 49 copies has been prepared for sale. All copies produced so far have been sold.
The last available numbers: 150 - 198. The last part of the edition has a notarial certificate and a personalized suitcase. The exclusive distributor of the last part of the edition is Manuscriptum
UNUSUAL PUBLISHING PROJECT
Because of the 600th anniversary of Jan Gutenberg's birthday and to commemorate the 550th anniversary of the publication of the first book with the word printed by moving font, the Bernardinum Publishing House of the Diocese of Pelplin, together with many lovers of black art, has made efforts to publish facsimiles of "the whitest of the White Ravens", the 42-row Gutenberg Bible. This undertaking posed many challenges, taught humility, gave a lot of emotion and joy. It required expert opinions and scientific consultations with scientists from Poland and Japan (Keio University in Tokyo).
Many puzzles and uncertainties were discovered and solved during this work. After a long period of research and preparation, a faithful copy of the Bible by a master from Mainz was created . These facsimiles were made with the use of the most modern technologies (photography, scanning, printing, art printing), paper with watermarks placed as in the original was produced especially for this occasion, the initials were laboriously repainted by hand, the Bible was framed as in a medieval bookbinding workshop in oak planks, vegetable tanned leather and refined binding with embossing and fittings designed in the fifteenth century.
All the facsimiles of the Pelplin Gutenberg Bible, made to this day, found their buyers among collectors and investors scattered all over the world. Currently, the last part of the edition has been prepared for sale, at the same time completing the publishing process set at a total of 198 copies of this extraordinary work.
We are pleased to present the effect of the extraordinary work that accompanied the publication of this masterpiece and, as a distributor of the last 50 copies of the Bible, we offer you to join the exclusive group of holders of the facsimile of this most expensive book in the world.
HISTORY OF PELPLIN BIBLE
Two-tome book, probably acquired by bishop of Chełmno Mikołaj Chrapicki (1496-1508), was given to the Franciscans in Lubawa. After secularization of the monastery, it was placed in the seminary library in Pelplin in 1833. Long-term research of the director of the university library in Königsberg, and later of the Royal Library in Berlin, Dr. Paul Schwenke, showed in 1897 that the Pelplin copy is the original, 42-verse Gutenberg Bible. Before World War II there was a real danger of losing the Bible. The high value of the book was a kind of temptation to sell and use the money to renovate the cathedral and expand the building of the seminary. A lively discussion in the press and protests of bibliophiles made it impossible to realize this plan.
A new danger appeared in 1939. At that time, Father Antoni Liedtke took Bible from Pelplin in a modest suitcase and secured it in the treasury of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, from where the Book reached Paris with other national treasures. On the eve of the occupation of the French capital by the German army, Prof. Karol Estreicher carried the Bible on board the small ship "Chorzów" and this way send the book to England. After a short stay in London, the Pelplin Bible on the flagship transatlantic "Batory" set off on a new journey to Canada to return to Pelplin after twenty years - February 24, 1959. The Bible, first exhibited in a special safe in the seminary, has been its greatest treasure since the opening of the new building of the Diocesan Museum in February 1988.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIBLE
Gutenberg Bible is one of about 180 copies of the two-volume Bible printed by Gutenberg in 1452-1455. So far, 48 works of the "black art" master from Mainz, of which 36 on paper and 12 on parchment, have been preserved around the world. Only 20 of them are sets. Currently, 14 copies of the 15th century Bible can be found in Germany (including two copies from Leipzig, exported to the USSR in 1945), 10 in the USA, 8 in the United Kingdom, 4 in France, 2 each in the Vatican and Spain, and 1 each in Austria, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland and Japan. The only copy of this "most expensive book in the world" in Poland is stored by the Bishop Stanisław Wojciech Okoniewski Diocesan Museum in Pelplin.
The Pelplin copy of the Bible consisting of two tomes, was printed on paper and has an original 15th-century binding made by the famous bookbinder, master Henryk Coster from Lübeck.
Like the other copies of the Bible, the Pelplin tome also contains the Latin text of all the books of Holy Scripture translated by St. Jerome and his comments and prologues taken from the then valid Vulgate. The entire work includes a total of 640 cards in folio in both volumes, printed on both sides in two columns measuring 285 x 85 mm, containing 40-42 poems. In the Pelplin bible there is no last card - 317th in volume II, printed with the text of the Apocalypse, which breaks at chapter XX, verse 9, and two unprinted cards (318th and 319th). The initials and decorations of the Bible were hand made by calligrapher and a rubricatorer.
The most beautiful of the 149 large initials (measuring from 3 to 6 lines) is the first, on the first page of Volume I, made in the shape of the letter F, blue colour, lined with gold and with a beautiful marginal ornament.
The other initials are two-coloured, blue-red, with a delicate ornament. Despite this relatively modest illumination, the Pelplin Bible is one of the most valuable of the preserved copies, due to the nature of the rich calligraphy and the way in which was written in red the titles of parts of book, explanations at the beginning and end of prologues, of chapters, explanation, which was not done in print to avoid too high costs associated with re-aplying sheets on the press. The anonymous rubricator of the Pelplin bible differs from others by its far-reaching autonomy and freedom, as evidenced by the significant deviation from the 'Tabula rubricarum' printed by Gutenberg, and this increases its documentary value.
The exceptional significance of the Pelplin copy of the Gutenberg Bible is further enhanced by a small but extremely valuable detail. On the margin, under the left column, on page 46 of Volume I there is a 25 x 7 mm stain. The fortunately preserved spot is a reflection of the shape of the font, which probably fell out of the hands of a typeset during the work. This trace allows a contemporary researcher to reconstruct the Gutenberg font, which is of invaluable importance to historians of printing.
WORK ON FACSIMILE PROJECT
Plans appeared already at the end of the seventies of the twentieth century, but at that time it was impossible to photograph individual pages without tearing and separating the cards. Modern technology makes it possible to take such pictures without prejudice to the Bible itself. The facsimiles of the Pelplin bible appeared in 2002-2003. This coincides with several important dates: The 550th anniversary of the printing of the Bible, the 350th anniversary of the existing of Major Seminary and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Pelplin. A special occasion is the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the pontificate of the Polish Pope, His Holiness John Paul II.
On September 7, 2000, the Bernardinum Publishing House in Pelplin organized a celebration of the 600th anniversary of the birth of John Gutenberg.
The event bringing together people connected to the publishing activity: publishers, printers, bookbinders and booksellers, created a convenient atmosphere for signing a letter of intent concerning the publication of a facsimile Pelplin Bible of the only Polish copy of the Gutenberg Bible. For several months, preparations for the works were in progress. The Bishop of Pelplin, Rev. Jan Bernard Szlaga, established the a special committee. Several times in Pelplin meetings of paperworkers, printers, scientists, including those from the Celulose and Paper Institute and the Institute of Leather Industry from Łódź, tanners and bookbinders were organized. Such a group discussed the necessity of conducting scientific research prior to work on facsimile. Later, specialists determined the composition of the paper, the distribution of watermarks, the way of copying of the Bible cards and the binding modelled on the work of master Coster from Lübeck.
The publishers wanted to recreate an exact copy of Gutenberg's work in Pelplin. It was agreed that the Bible would be published in two volumes, in a circulation similar to that of Gutenberg: 198 numbered copies. "The copy from Pelplin, printed on paper in two tomes, framed, has survived relatively well, although it has suffered a little from the moisture, which caused erode especially the upper edges of the cards, the red headlines also was blurred in some places. The print shows the original freshness and shine of shiny black, and the strong handmade paper of yellowish grey and four different watermarks has been very well preserved. Rev. Dr. Antoni Liedtke "The Saga of the Pelplin Gutenberg Bible". (Pelplin 1987).
This is how the fascinating project of recreating the unique work of the Master from Mainz began.
THE FACSIMILE BINDING
Is a faithful copy of the work made by Henryk Coster from Lübeck in the 15th century. It consists of two oak planks covered with red goat leather and is equipped with brass stone, corner fittings and buckles fixed on leather straps to close the Bible for greater durability and protection.
The rich ornament of the outer cladding with numerous figural, animal and plant motifs embossed in leather in a beautiful geometrical arrangement, the central square of which, with the most beautiful ornament, is signed in the lower and upper flange with two pistons: "hin(ri)c(us) cost(er)' and 'bant dit' is an authentic statement of the medieval work. The luminaire does not contain protective cards and the inner mirror of the lining is covered with calf parchment.
The volume block is sewn with natural linen thread. Sewing creates a natural bond on the back of the binding, which is built on the block of the Bible. On special order was reconstructed the technology of work with goats leather with the use of natural plants ingredients (from the 15th century.)
UNUSUAL PACKING OF THE BIBLE
The great expert of Gutenberg and his bible, Pastor Don Cleveland Norman considered that the wartime history of the Pelplin copy of the Bible could serve as the basis for many sensational novels and movies. The story starts at the beginning of summer 1939, on the eve of the outbreak of World War II. The then conservator of monuments of the Chełmno diocese, Rev. Dr. Antoni Liedtke, in the face of the growing threat, made efforts to protect the most valuable Pelplin monuments from destruction and loss. Of course, priority was given to the protection of the Gutenberg Bible.
In his book "The Story of the Pelplin Gutenberg Bible" Fr. Liedtke recalls: "Authorized by the Ordinary Bishop (Bishop Stanislaw Wojciech Okoniewski) to secure the Bible, I prepared a suitable form (strong, leather suitcase for a specially request, done by the local saddler Teodor Gutkowski) for the journey. In the same suitcase I also placed the most valuable of the manuscripts richly illuminated "Psałterz" of the Czech school from the beginning of the 16th century and a copy of my work "The Bible of Gutenberg in Pelplin" published in Toruń in 1936. In this unusual package, on 1 August 1939, the Bible began its war wandering. The suitcase in which the facsimile of the Pelplin copy of the Gutenberg Bible are packed is a faithful replica of the packaging made in the spring of 1939.
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