3¢ Gutenberg Bible
Issue Date: September 30, 1952
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10½
U.S. #1014 commemorates the 500th anniversary of the printing of the first book by moveable type. Johannes Gutenberg invented the moveable-type press and printed his version of the Bible with 42 lines per page in 1452. The stamp pictures a painting by Edward Laning titled, “Gutenberg Showing a Proof to the Elector of Mainz.”
The Gutenberg Revolution
Johannes Gutenberg first began work on the printing press as early as 1436. He had prior experience as a goldsmith, so had a good knowledge of working with metals. Gutenberg was the first to create type from an alloy made of lead, tin, and antimony, which was crucial to creating durable type that could print numerous books. In the process of creating this lead type, he used what many consider among his most important inventions – a special matrix that allowed for the quick and exact molding of new type blocks from a consistent template. He also created a new oil-based ink that was more long lasting than the previous water-based inks.
Gutenberg’s invention and publication of the first moveable-type printed Bible led to an explosion in printing throughout Europe. The boom quickly spread to the rest of the world, dramatically increasing the number of printed books across the globe.