Scanning The Gutenberg Bible

Scanning The Gutenberg Bible

Gutenberg BibleThe Gutenberg Bible is one of those items that I suspect everyone has heard of, but just in case, here is what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:

The Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the B42) was the first major book printed with movable type in the West. It marked the start of the “Gutenberg Revolution” and the age of the printed book in the West. Widely praised for its high aesthetic and artistic qualities, the book has an iconic status. Written in Latin, the Gutenberg Bible is an edition of the Vulgate, printed by Johannes Gutenberg, in Mainz, Germany, in the 1450s. Forty-eight copies, or substantial portions of copies, survive, and they are considered to be one of the most valuable books in the world, even though a complete copy has not been sold since 1978.

While I was making my morning coffee yesterday, I heard on CBC Radio that the University of Oxford and the Vatican library joined together to scan the Gutenberg Bible, and it is available online. Since I love highlighting interesting scanning projects, I had to check it out.

It turns out that the project is part of the Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project:

The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican Library) have joined efforts in a landmark digitization project with the aim of opening up their repositories of ancient texts. Over the course of the next four years, 1.5 million pages from their remarkable collections will be made freely available online to researchers and to the general public.

There is some amazing stuff on the site, but if you want to just skip to the Gutenbergs, here they are. Click “View the full book” to see:

What I found most remarkable about this is how vibrant the text looks. I assumed it would be faded and torn up, but these things look like they could have been printed last week.

There is also a fascinating blog post about the digitization techniques. Suffice it to say, scanning this stuff is not fast.

What other cool digitization projects have you come across?

(Photo by NYC Wanderer)

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

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