From Manuscript to Print: the Evolution of the Medieval Book

Gutenberg’s Bible
horizontal rule
This leaf, from the famous edition of the Latin Vulgate known as the Gutenberg Bible, displays the first printer’s attempt to reproduce the look of the medieval manuscript. The type is based on the Gothic minuscule of the High Middle Ages and preserves the scribal abbreviations found in manuscript books. An important difference, however, is that the impressions are made on paper rather than parchment. This alternative writing surface had been making headway for some time in Europe, but only with the advent of the printing press did paper become the dominant writing surface.

horizontal rule
Vulgate Bible. Printed by Johan Gutenberg. Germany, 1450–1455.
horizontal rule

view image 1
view image 2

continue tour

the Sacred Word
Private Prayer
Leather and Chains
Medieval Music
How the Classics Survived
Manuscripts in the Age of Print
Evolution of the Book
Appetite for Destruction
Manuscript Facsimiles
Cornell's Medieval Books
Cornell University Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections Cornell University Library

Copyright 2002 Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections
2B Carl A. Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853
Phone Number: (607) 255-3530. Fax Number: (607) 255-9524

For reference questions, send mail to:
If you have questions or comments about the site, send mail to: webmaster.