Gutenberg Bible

The University of Melbourne Library is excited to announce a ten-day exhibition of the Gutenberg Bible as part of the 2014 Rare Book Week and Cultural Treasures Festival. The Bible, which is on loan from The University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library, was printed ca. 1455 and is the first substantial book to be printed in the western world using moveable type.

Public Exhibition

Friday 18 to Sunday 27 July 2014
11.00am to 5.00pm daily
Ground Floor, Baillieu Library
The University of Melbourne

Floor Talks

The following talks in connection with the exhibition are free and open to the public:

The Word in Print: The Making and Impact of the Gutenberg Bible
Monday 21 July 2014, 10–11am
Wednesday 23 July 2014, 10–11am
Anthony Tedeschi
Deputy Curator, Special Collections
University Library
University of Melbourne
Bookings essential

From Manchester to Melbourne: Collections of The John Rylands Library
Friday 25 July 2014, 11am - 12pm
Julianne Simpson
Manager, Rare Books and Maps
The John Rylands Library
The University of Manchester
Bookings essential

  • About the Bible

    The Gutenberg Bible stands as an icon for the invention of printing using moveable type.

    The great achievement by its printer, Johann Gutenberg, was in bringing together and perfecting the combination of moveable metal type, printing ink, and a wooden screw-press in order to make western printing from type – as opposed to through the use of woodcut blocks – possible for the first time. The chief advantage of the printing press over manuscript production was its ability to produce in a short period of time a large number of identical copies of any given work. This led to the rapid dissemination of knowledge, to the forming of new communities of learning and scholarship, and eventually to the literate mass culture we know today.

  • About the Loan

    The loan of the Gutenberg Bible comes at a time of historical commemoration and strengthening bonds between the universities of Melbourne and Manchester.

    The copy of the Gutenberg Bible held by The John Rylands Library at The University of Manchester was once part of the book collection of George Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer, who commissioned Matthew Flinders to circumnavigate and fully map the Australian continent. 2014 marks the bicentennial of the publication of the account of this voyage with its famous map (proposing ‘Australia’ as the name of the continent) in 1814, the same year Lord Spencer’s library, including his Gutenberg Bible, was first described in a catalogue of his collection. In addition, in March of this year, the Vice-Chancellors of The University of Melbourne and The University of Manchester, Professor Glyn Davis AC and Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, announced The Universities of Manchester and Melbourne Mobility Fund aimed at strengthening professional and academic staff engagement between the two institutions. Also, within the last few years, Manchester opened the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons in honour of the late Alan David Gilbert (1944–2010), who served as Vice-Chancellor for both universities.