Talk:Johannes Gutenberg

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Section: "Speculations on other early developments"[edit]

This section is lengthy with few citations. Most of it reads like an essay of opinions and personal interpretations of facts with few sources. It might help the article's authenticity and readability if this section were abbreviated to state the key points with sources. It's also OK to include these lengthy speculations in the discussion area and link to it from a shortened section.

Many other general references, such as he liked the D, it was very reliable the Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.) mention earlier movable woodblocks in China and Korea, along with the early printers in Europe who were dabbling with new ways of using type. But this section on "speculations" is taking up about 25% of this imporant article which seems too much. Any thoughts? Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 04:41, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Most of them are not exactly speculations, but rather debated issues. This is a subject in which the various scholars involved have always been extremely certain of their mutually contradictory positions, and it is impossible really to find a firm "consensus version" . I'm not sure I would have said this 10 years ago, but work is continuing....

One thing I am fairly certain about, is that the view back in 1910 from the Catholic Encyclopedia is not of more than historical interest in the development of scholarship. I intend to remove the recently added references to it, and replace them with references to something reliable. (FWIW, the old EB was even worse). We've been trying hard in general in Wikipedia to reduce our early reliance on the PD sources for the humanities, and adding such material is a backwards step. DGG (talk) 00:50, 26 September 2008 (UTC).

Among the acceptable sources for such articles, are recent scholarly books and articles, and, to a certain extent, recent authoritative popular works based on them. This does not include old encyclopedias, or miscellaneous web sites. You might want to start by reading some of the reliable material already in the references. I am reverting your additions for now, and will check a little later to see if there was any new information among them for which there is anacceptable source. I do not in the least want to discourage anyone though, from working on topics such as these. Do however, learn about suitable sources. see WP:RS. In practice, most of the good material for topics such as this is found till in printed books, not the internet, and in professional level online material available to libraries by subscription.

to explain a ittle further: the festival at Mainz is not of particular pertinence to his life. The old EB and CE can be shown to be inadequate by the unscholarly tone of their wording "he undoubtedly learned" means pure speculation. Monuments of him showing him in impossibly inaccurate epresentations are not used unless there is nothing better--he was neither medieval nor a scholar. I will go over all of them in detail this weekend.
I shall also ask for an opinion from another knowledgable editor. DGG (talk) 17:39, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Any suggestions from anyone?Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 16:46, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

This 2001 printed book I am reading, by John Man, "Gutenberg: How one man remade the world with words" has a lot more detail on his early life.... 216.14.79.3 (talk) 17:02, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

RfC: Should removed edits be restored?[edit]

During a six day span, between Sept. 20, 2008 and Sept. 26, 2008, I contributed a number of separate edits, including quotations, citations, references, images, and documented factual statements. The edits were made in small increments, as recommended by Wiki guidelines, in order to make review by other editors simpler. Extreme care was taken to keep edits organized and related to the correct sections. During this six day period there were no removals, modifications, or any talk page comments by any editors. There have also been as many as 2,000 visits per day during that week, so visibility and opportunity to make changes has been substantial.

On Sept. 27th, user DGG wrote comments on the talk page responding to a separate issue about "Speculations." But he also, in a separate paragraph, questioned and disputed a few of my edits. He also added that he intended to remove them. Immediately thereafter, all of the edits I made the previous week were deleted en masse, including a number of images.

I chose to let the deletions stand to allow other editors time to respond. After 24 hours of no response, I wrote (Sept. 28th,) a "Request" for user DGG to restore the deleted material. A day later, on Sept. 29th, user DGG responded on my own talk page saying he would be "rewriting" this article. I replied in good faith and acknowledged his intention to "rewrite" this article. That was about three days ago.

I feel that considering no other editors have as yet disputed any of the contributions made, that the article should be restored and the mass deletion undone. This would allow any future changes to be made on a case by case basis with clear justification or discussion. And DGG can contribute any edits at any time.

I am also very uncomforable and surpised that other editors have allowed this issue to remain open between two editors only, without offering any opinions. I therefore kindly request any interested editors to review this issue and submit comments. Also, since I have never submitted a RFC, I would appreciate being informed of any errors so I can correct them. Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 04:40, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

my apologies for not getting to this. I will try this weekend again. DGG (talk) 23:49, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

"Hypotheses about East Asian origins" section[edit]

I've removed the following section from the article. With the exception of an allusion to movable type in the first sentence, the section is all about block printing, which has nothing to do with Gutenberg.

===Hypotheses about East Asian origins===
Since the use of printing from movable type arose in East Asia centuries before it did in Europe, it is relevant to ask whether Gutenberg may have been influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Chinese or Korean inventions of movable type printing, or their earlier discoveries of block printing.
There are no historical documents which single out that Gutenberg was aware of existing Asian printing techniques. Nonetheless, several historians have drawn inferences. The earliest woodblocks used for printing in Europe, in the fourteenth century, using exactly the same technique as Chinese woodblocks, led some early writers on Asian subjects to speculate about a connection: "the process of printing them must have been copied from ancient Chinese specimens, brought from that country by some early travelers, whose names have not been handed down to our times" (Robert Curzon, 1810-1873).[1] Since the 13th century, with the expansion of the Mongol Empire to the door of Europe, numerous travelers bridged the distance between Europe and China, such as Marco Polo or the Mongol Chinese Rabban Bar Sauma, and numerous direct contacts occurred in attempts at creating a Franco-Mongol alliance, giving ample opportunity for the transmission of printing technology from China.
However, European woodblock printing shows a clear progression from patterns to images, both printed on cloth, then to images printed on paper, when it became widely available in Europe in about 1400.[2] In particular, text and images printed together only appear in about 1460, some sixty years later than images alone, and after Gutenberg's invention of metal movable type.[3]
Joseph Needham's Science and Civilization in China has a chapter that suggests that "European block printers must not only have seen Chinese samples, but perhaps had been taught by missionaries or others who had learned these un-European methods from Chinese printers during their residence in China."[4]
But historians of the Western prints themselves see no need for such a direct and late connection. Rather, they assume that European woodcut appeared "spontaneously and presumably as a result of the use of paper as it had been observed that paper was better suited than rough-surfaced parchment for making the impressions from wood-reliefs".[5] Also, A. Hyatt Mayor states: "A little before 1400 Europeans had enough paper to begin making holy images and playing cards in woodcut. They need not have learned woodcut from the Chinese, because they had been using woodblocks for about 1,000 years to stamp designs on linen."[6]
Whatever the facts regarding Asian influences in this invention, there can be no doubt about Gutenberg's genius in putting together the technologies that eventually went on to fuel the European Renaissance.[7]

A section on the attribution of the invention of movable type to Gutenberg may be warranted, but that stuff above is not it, and the one-sentence at the end to bring it back to the subject of Gutenberg does not work. -- Fullstop (talk) 08:14, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

I disagree. The significance of Gutenberg depends upon the importance of his work. The importance of the work depends upon its originality. The above is a fair discussion of that question, which i discussed in more detail elsewhere in Wikipedia, but should be summarized here. The last sentence works very well in explaining just why. Unless there's some reason for its total lack of relevance, I'm restoring it. I continue not to see the reason to eliminate it.
As for the part about block printing, I consider it necessary in order to clarify what he did invent. It is not clear to a beginner. The almost simultaneous adoption of the two in Europe is both fascinating and confusing. (incidentally, to summarize discussion of earlier years on this p. I agree with the scholarly consensus i that there is no direct connection beteeen the East Asian processes and G's invention. )DGG (talk) 13:44, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
Um, you seem to have misunderstood something. Yes, of course the significance of Gutenberg depends upon the importance of his work. But A) no one is disputing Gutenberg's significance, B) the last paragraph effectively says is "all that stuff is not what Gutenberg is significant for", C) except for the first and last line, that whole section is not related to Gutenberg. Everything after the "nevertheless" veers off into space. That is my point. A summary of the discussions of putative east->west transfer of *block printing* techniques is OT when *block printing* has virtually nothing to with Gutenberg. D'accord? -- Fullstop (talk) 11:08, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

History of Mainz - is it relevant to Gutenberg?[edit]

Copied from User_talk:Wikiwatcher1#Gutenberg for discussion.

I have gone back to this. Before I do, could you explain why the history of the Jews in Mainz is relevant? Is there serious speculation he was a Jew? You might want to add some of your information to the relevant section on the article on Mainz. DGG (talk) 13:29, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Your question "Is there serious speculation he was a Jew?" is interesting. There is at least one reference which I could try to get, if you or anyone else wants me to pursue the question:
"Was Gutenberg Jewish? and Other Conundrums", (1997), edited by Herbert C. Zafren, Director of Libraries Emeritus and Profesor Emeritus of Jewish Bibliography at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Michael W. Grunberger, head of the Hebraic Section of the Library of Congress and President of the Council of Archives and Research Libraries in Jewish Studies.Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 07:43, 23 December 2008 (UTC)
No, the speculations are not serious. They go back to at least the 18th century, when people began to notice that Gutenberg was portrayed with a beard.
This sort of arcanum falls into the same category as "Was Shakespeare a Catholic/Homosexual/nobleman?", with the not-insignificant difference that such issues might have influenced Shakespeare's compositions, whereas in Gutenberg's case, even iff valid, they obviously did not. -- Fullstop (talk) 14:18, 23 December 2008 (UTC)
For an article about one of civilization's most important individuals, I assumed that useful facts about his birthplace and where he spent his life would be relevant to his biography. And as the first paragraph in the article says, his major work was the Gutenberg Bible, so it also seems strange to remove facts about Mainz being home to noted biblical scholars, for example. Personally, I think that sourced background details about his life and home are more relevant to his biography than personal comments about the history of printing in China, which you insist on keeping:
"Since the 13th century, with the expansion of the Mongol Empire to the door of Europe, numerous travelers bridged the distance between Europe and China, such as Marco Polo or the Mongol Chinese Rabban Bar Sauma, and numerous direct contacts occurred in attempts at creating a Franco-Mongol alliance, giving ample opportunity for the transmission of printing technology from China. "
As a result, the biography is now mostly an unsourced history of printing, typography, and books, while important facts about the person himself - his life, environment, and times - are hastily removed as being no more than "unscientific speculations...argumentative rationalization 'supported' by sources that don't even mention Gutenberg." And removed despite the fact that they came from published Gutenberg biographies such as The Gutenberg Revolution and Gutenberg: How One Man Remade the World with Word, both of which were deleted from the references. Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 19:54, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Seems to me you both have a legitimate concern... there's a lot of material (that comes and goes according to last editor) that is either tangential to a biography of Gutenberg or the details of which fit better in another article. Glendoremus (talk) 00:30, 3 December 2008 (UTC)



Discussions about the Jews of Mainz has nothing to do with G. End of that story until such time as a reliable source says so *explicitly*. No argumentation, and no hints through the bushes.
The "unscientific speculations...argumentative rationalization 'supported' by sources that don't even mention Gutenberg" were not "hastily" removed. That entire Jewish construct is rot, and even if it came "from published Gutenberg biographies", it was liberally embellished by an editor's own spice-up from disparate sources that did not even mention Gutenberg. And the name Judenberg/Gutenberg is not "a name with significant connotations" unless one has the luxury of not being subject to peer-review. John Man is not an scholastic resource. It is a pop biography addressed to a non-academic audience. Its fine for the basics, but his allusions and speculations do not belong in an encyclopedia.
The history of Mainz is relevant if and when it relates to Gutenberg. For instance the fact that his father was "companion of the mint" might make it necessary to explain why Mainz had a mint to begin with. Ditto the circumstances behind a (possible) move to Eltville. The Judenberg/Gutenberg thing is historical too but relevant only insofar as it can be used to explain how G's grandpappy got a nice house at rock bottom prices. Brief background info can sometimes be useful to make chronology coherent.
Whether an enumeration of the speculations about east/west transfer are necessary in a biography of G is a different ball of wax. The speculations certainly need mentioning, but briefly. Again: This is a bio article, not an article on history of printing, which is elsewhere.
-- Fullstop (talk) 12:24, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
There are some aspects of Mainz that are in fact very relevant--the organization of the guilds--which explains some of his likely training, the political disruption of the city at the time--which explain his travels; the local Church organization -- which explains some of his sponsorship; the general commercial importance--which explains the business side of his activities. I agree with Fullstop in general 17:32, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Correct, but do not "explain" X by Y. E.g., do not yourself speculate that the political changes caused him to travel. Its not known whether he traveled at all. But you can say something like this: "By 1411, members of the guilds had gained control of the city council, which then sought to levy taxes on the patricians, who had thus far been exempt. This in turn caused 117 upper class families to either move to houses outside the city limits, or to leave the city altogether. It has been suggested[ref here] that Gutenberg's family moved to Eltville in the Rheingau, a short distance downstream from Mainz, where Gutenberg's maternal grandfather had a house." This may be contrasted with actual history, which does not have to be cautious. E.g. "Gutenberg's date of birth is unknown. It has been narrowed down to the decade between 1394 and 1404, but in the late 1890s the Mainz city council decided that the turn of the century would be a good year to celebrate Gutenberg's 500th birth anniversary. The feast day of St. John (German Johannes), was arbitrarily chosen as the day of the Johannes Gutenberg's birth. Officially, but arbitrarily, Johannes Gutenberg's date of birth was thus set to June 24, 1400." -- Fullstop (talk) 18:52, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

Reliable sources[edit]

You wrote: “... the name Judenberg/Gutenberg is not 'a name with significant connotations' unless one has the luxury of not being subject to peer-review. John Man is not an scholastic resource. It is a pop biography...” and not "a reliable source."

As stated in the book The Gutenberg Revolution, "John Man is a historian with a background in German studies and the history of science, and a special interest in Mongolia. His most recent book is Alpha Beta, about the roots of the Roman alphabet, to which this book is a sequel. He also wrote Gobi: Tracking the Desert and The Atlas of the Year 1000. He lives in London." It should also be pointed out that he lists 46 different reference books that he used for writing the book, many in German.

The following is taken from his "Acknowledgments" page of The Gutenberg Revolution:

“My greatest debt of thanks is to James Mosley, former librarian of the St. Bride Printing Library and Visiting Professor of Typography and Graphic Communications, University of Reading. His generosity, expertise, patience and wit made re-writing a joy. Thanks also to: Stephan Fussel, Institut fur Buchwissenschaft, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, for vital help on Archbishop Albrecht and the publicaiton of the 95 Theses; the staff of the St. Bride Printing Libary; Kristian Jensen and John Goldfinch at the British Library for their guidance on incunabula; Eva Hanebutt-Benz, Director of the Gutenberg Museum, Mainz; Barry Cook at the British Museum; the Koeglers at Hof Bechtermunz, Eltville; Hazel Bell for her guidance on the history of indexes; Celia Kent and Ian Marshall at Headline, who were the best of editors, and to Felicity Bryan the best of agents; Joscelyn Godwin, Dept. Of Music, Colgate University, New York, for guidance on Hypnerotomachia Poliphili; Don Beecher, Department of English, Carleton University, Ottowa, for his help on Piccolomini’s Two Lovers; Nick Webb; Miyuki Nagai, University of Sheffield; Francis Robinson, Dept. of History, Royal Holloway, University of London, for his guidance on Islam; Mary Kay Duggan, Dept. Of History, University of California at Berkeley, for her insights into the politics of religious publication in the mid-fifteenth century; Tahir Awan, the Muslim Directory; Morimich Watanabe, American Cusanus Society.” Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 01:17, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
Reliable sources are not defined by who they acknowledge, but who acknowledges them. Note the mention of institutional affiliation in all the reliable sources mentioned above. Note also that Stephan Füssel is "acknowledged" for nothing related to Gutenberg. Füssel is one of the (if not the) authorities on Gutenberg, and all his books are related to Buchwesen.
One may contrast this with Man, who is neither peer-reviewed nor university-affiliated and an authority on nothing, and whose pop-audience biographies range from Attila to Robinson Crusoe to ice skaters. Like I said before, Man is fine for the basics, but his allusions and speculations do not belong in an encyclopedia. -- Fullstop (talk) 18:52, 5 December 2008 (UTC)


Columbus was stimulated by Gutenberg's invention[edit]

Please help me to insert this stuff, I am a beginner. Forgive my bad English.

--Federico Tortorelli (talk) 00:55, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Book preview[edit]

Came across this book online with much of it available as a free preview: Johannes Gutenberg and the Printing Press, By Diana Childress, 2008. While it's written for a younger audience, it has more detail than the article and includes a number of unique artwork reproductions. It's part of Google's fairly new (and still free) Book Search service.-- Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 08:34, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Fust or Furst?[edit]

There is a "Johann Fust" mentioned in the article as Gutenberg's financier. Then, in the section on the court case, a "Furst" (without first name or any other description) is mentioned. Are these the same person or different people? Perhaps we need an expert to clear up this apparent discrepancy. 68.73.93.130 (talk) 20:14, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

same guy. The correct spelling is Fust, We should do n article on him. There's enough info in the Kapr book on Gutenberg. Just for the record, there is one other Fust, his younger brother Jakob Fust, much involved in Mainz politics, who supported him in his case against Gutenberg. I fixed the article. DGG (talk) 00:48, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Mispelling, bottom second paragraph: Moveable should be movable[edit]

Moveable should be movable my ass!

Mike Looney

Protection[edit]

I don't mind that it's semi-protected, because I have an account, but I was curious as to why it is. -timothymh, who is definitely not a bunny. 23:01, 25 March 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Timothymh (talkcontribs)

Seems to be due to anonymous vandalism from kids. See log and edit history <= 2 Dec -- Fullstop (talk) 01:03, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Time-Life reference for most important invention?[edit]

The article says "in 1997, Time–Life magazine picked Gutenberg's invention as the most important of the second millennium." I have not been able to find this direct reference anywhere. Just many references to the Wikipedia entry itself. Does anyone know the original reference? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mbonchek (talkcontribs) 15:12, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,993033,00.html There you go. And it actually states that he is the "Man of the Millennium", not that the printing press was the invention of the millennium, so that should be changed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.186.62.248 (talk) 16:53, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

External Links Defects[edit]

The link "English homepage of the Gutenberg-Museum Mainz, Germany" http://www.gutenberg-museum.de/?language=e takes you to a German page. This should be changed to http://www.gutenberg-museum.de/?L=1 .

The following link does not work at all. (French) Biographie de Johannes Gutenberg, inventeur de l'Imprimerie (a biography of Gutenberg at the Histoire et Geographie site). whois returns no record for histoireetgeographie.free.fr . I suggest this is removed or changed to http://www.jesuismort.com/biographie_celebrite_chercher/biographie-johannes_gutenberg-633.php . --Kogpop (talk) 17:29, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

Did Laurens Janzoon Koster invent movable type instead of Gutenberg?[edit]

I've found some interesting passages in the book "The Mother Tongue", by Bill Bryson, 1990, Avon Books. On page 126 Bryson states "There is reason to believe that movable type was actually invented by a Dutchman named Laurens Janszoon Koster and that Gutenberg--about whom we know precious little--learned of the process only when one of Koster's apprentices ran off to Mainz in Germany with some of Koster's blocks and the two struck up a friendship. Certainly it seems odd that a man who had for the first forty years of his life been an obscure stone mason and mirror polisher should suddenly have taken some blocks of wood and a wine press and made them into an invention that would transform the world." Bryson also interestingly notes on the same page that before 1400 it was possible to tell where in England something was written because of the particular local spellings but after 1500 this was impossible because the printing press had introduced a good deal of uniformity in spelling.66.122.182.225 (talk) 09:37, 13 February 2010 (UTC)Sgt. Rock

The article includes a discussion of the claim that Laurens Coster invented printing by movable type. Scholars, however, without significant exception, credit Gutenberg with that achievement. I have not heard the claim regarding the press resulting in uniformity in spelling. That, however, seems unlikely as there were just not that many books printed in England before 1500 and English spelling remained notoriously irregular throughtout the 16th century. Ecphora (talk) 13:20, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Legacy improvements[edit]

He deserves a more meaningful and clearer "Legacy," and the current section could use some improvement. It's laid out into numerous single-sentence paragraphs without any order or connection to the one preceding it, so readability is difficult. It reads more like a haphazard list. I'd suggest subdividing the section, as was done here, which could include adding back some more legacy facts. Note also that the current section has almost no cites, whereas the earlier one had many. --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 21:59, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Invention[edit]

Gutenberg's "invention" is said to be connected somehow to the "Reformation". Block printing and moveable type were used in China for centuries, without any great denominational implications. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.183.233.153 (talk) 10:24, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

The argument above is that printing didn't cause denominational consequences in China and so therefore if there were denominational consequences in Europe those consequences were the consequences of something other than printing. That doesn't follow. It's the mass-production of books, placed in the hands of everyday people, that brings down the Catholic clerical monopoly on knowledge. If nothing similar occurred in China, then it may be that they already HAD liberty of conscience before printing was invented, or (more likely) that the form of printing devised in China was not such as to inaugurate the mass-production of books. Which might be a consequence of not using the same 52 (in English, other European languages have a few more) characters broken up and reassembled in difference configurations to form all the words.69.86.131.77 (talk) 07:49, 29 May 2013 (UTC)Christopher L. Simpson

Bi Sheng developed moveable type press around 1050[edit]

According to Robin D Yates of McGill University, interviewed on NOVA in 2000 about China's Age of Invention, a man in China named Bi Sheng invented the moveable printing press nearly 300 years before Gutenberg.

Yates says: "In the 11th century, a famous literary artist by the name of Shen Gua records the invention of movable-type printing by a man by the name of Bi Sheng. It was this invention that was eventually taken over to the West and used by Gutenberg for the printing of the Bible. Needless to say, this had a profound effect on the nature of knowledge and the development of literature. So this is probably the number-one invention of the Song Dynasty... It's very unclear, but it does appear that there was a transfer from East to West. The Mongol invaders of China were able to use their highly developed organization and cavalry to conquer all of Central Asia, including parts of India, the Middle East, and Europe. So the invention was probably transferred to the West as a result of the opening up of the trade routes and the lines of communication established by the Mongols. I'm not saying that Gutenberg actually had access to a Chinese press; that's highly unlikely. Rather, he probably got wind of the idea of printing through some unknown and lost source. It's rather ironic that Gutenberg was recently voted the man of the millennium, when it was the Chinese who actually invented the technology..."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/china/age.html

It is correct that Bi Sheng invented a process for movable type printing which, although much more primitive than Gutenberg's, complies to the definition of the term. But Far Eastern movable type printing was rarely used, their hand printing did not know the printing press and there is not a shred of evidence for a transmission of the technology which is only ever asserted, without any proof at all. Since Mr. Yates appears to be unaware of the crucial difference between hand printing and a press, his paper has not even undergraduate status, I am afraid. Rather, since Far Eastern movable type was eventually completely replaced by the Western strand, the real irony is that all publications which celebrate Bi Sheng as the "inventor of movable type printing" are actually printed by methods which follow the printing tradition established by Johannes Gutenberg. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 17:10, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
Gun Powder Ma is tying too hard to find ironies. Block printing and moveable type are such obvious discoveries that there is nothing to be gained by discussing priority. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 217.41.51.240 (talk) 12:39, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Bible price?[edit]

Article says: "...which was roughly three years' wages for an average clerk. Nonetheless, it was significantly cheaper than a handwritten Bible that could take a single scribe over a year to prepare".

This is right? I assume a scriba "journal" similar as a clerk... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kim for sure (talkcontribs) 05:41, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

who made calligraphy printing a reality??[edit]

any1? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 90.209.78.171 (talk) 15:35, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

"Straßburg" vs "Strasbourg"[edit]

The current English name "Strasbourg" has been changed to "Straßburg", unfamaliar to English readers and not the title of the linked article Strasbourg. "Straßburg" is contrary to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names)#Use Englsh, which states:

When a widely accepted English name, in a modern context, exists for a place, we should use it. This will often be identical in form to the local name (as with Paris or Berlin), but in many cases it will differ (Germany rather than Deutschland, Rome rather than Roma, Hanover rather than Hannover, Meissen rather than Meißen).

Accordingly, I've reverted to Strasbourg. Ecphora (talk) 20:52, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Not quite correct, the guideline explicitly says in a modern context, but here it is most clearly a historical context as Gutenberg lived in the 15th century. Therefore, here rather applies Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names)#General guidelines:

Use of widely accepted historic names implies that names can change; we use Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul in discussing the same city in different periods. Use of one name for a town in 2000 does not determine what name we should give the same town in 1900 or in 1400, nor the other way around.

Accordingly, I've changed to Strassburg (identical to Straßburg but without the "ß"). You find this historical usage all over Wikipedia, take Danzig where the name of the city changes in the text between Danzig and Gdańsk depending on the historical situation. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 00:11, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
This is still not correct. The "historical context" refers to situations where in modern English there are different common names for a place in different times, like Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul. There is no common usage in English of "Strasbourg" for the current city but "Strasburg" for the city in in the 1400s. The spelling to use is the commonly used name today in English for the city. "Strasbourg" is (based on Google searches) considerably more common than "Strasburg" and that is why "Strasbourg" is used as the article name. It also is the correct spelling here. Ecphora (talk) 01:52, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't quite understand your argument. You say yourself that Straßburg (or Strassburg or Strasburg) was common for Strasbourg in the 1400s, hence you concede that Straßburg or one of its variants is the correct name for this time period. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 22:00, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
No. The point is whether today there are different common English names for a place in different historical periods. If you are discussing the city in present day Turkey, you would call it "Istanbul." But if you are discussing that same city in a 16th century context, you would call it "Constantinople." Today, the common English word for the S-City is "Strasbourg," whether you are discussing it in its present context or the 15th century. Ecphora (talk) 07:20, 23 January 2011 (UTC)
I am willing to compromise since it is no major issue anyway, but only if first the relevant guideline is recognized and understood properly. Obviously, we discuss the history of the city in the 15th century, hence the German name Strassburg applies, not the French one, as the city was annexed by France under Louis XIV only much later, in 1681. This is perfectly analogous to the Constantinople/Istanbul example which, in the 1440s, we are required to call Constantinople, not Istanbul. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 23:32, 1 February 2011 (UTC)
Added "Strasbourg" in brackets at the first mention of the name of the city, following an established WP practice in such cases. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 23:36, 1 February 2011 (UTC)

Ecphora is right. Why not go and edit e.g. Oaths of Strasbourg or Archbishopric of Cologne and make sure the name of the city is correct for the time period? Because it is opaque and incomprehensible to a speaker of English reading an article written in English. "Strassburg" isn't even a compromise, it's nonsense. Additionally, the article doesn't even blink in mentioning "Strasbourg" several more times. -moogsi(blah) 23:11, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Adjustable brackets[edit]

My Typography teacher said that the real invention of Gutenberg was adjustable brackets, so that one could type set a page of different sizes. Does anyone have support for this? I think it should be added with a source.--99.32.240.141 (talk) 00:03, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

Old auction descriptions a RS?[edit]

Is this a valid source to add printing details from: "The Gutenberg Bible at Auction", 1900? --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 06:28, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

citation issue under 3.1 Table of Contents[edit]

After reading the first paragraph entitled "Was Gutenberg's type produced by punches and copper matrices?", found under 3.1 in the Table of Contents. I feel a citation needs to be added due to the skepticism i have towards the information. After studying his technique in my History & Design class, the textbook cleary informs the reader of Gutenberg's technique used to from his punches used for type. Token718 (talk) 01:05, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

What to add for the city of Göttingen?[edit]

I live in the city of Göttingen in Germany. There is some content already. I am just wondering what else can/should be added?

Thanks — Preceding unsigned comment added by Easykick (talkcontribs) 19:31, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

Jewish?[edit]

Was gutenberg jewish? I remember seeing on this page that the surname Gutenberg means Jewish hill. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.103.147.243 (talk) 17:36, 16 November 2011 (UTC)

Yes this man was Jewish or Jewish ancestor. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 93.232.21.253 (talk) 19:04, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

No, he was not. "Guten" does not mean "Jewish." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 93.137.104.54 (talk) 17:49, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

Gut=Good Gutenberg=Goodhill134.3.76.108 (talk) 12:13, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

Role of Asia[edit]

The article reads as if Gutenberg invented mechanical movable type printing and book printing in general. This contradicts with information I see in the Japanese version of the article. The Japanese article claims the modern printing started in China as early as 8th century (using woods and ceramics). Joseph Needham writes in his book "Science and Civilisation in China" (Chapter 1) that "It is likely that the European Missionaries learned the printing technology in China and brought it back to Europe."--79.244.21.103 (talk) 22:02, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

The English version is indeed misleading. Check out this page:

"[...] But to say that he invented the printing press is like saying Steve Jobs or Bill Gates invented the computer. He certainly made it a commercially available device, but Gutenberg's role was as a popularizer and entrepreneur. As a technology, the printing press has its origins in Asia, where it existed for centuries before making its way to the West. Gutenberg's real genius was in adapting the technology for a Western market, capitalizing on a few quirks of the Roman alphabet to bring printed books to the mainstream."
— Preceding unsigned comment added by 202.216.13.109 (talk) 16:20, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
Actually your comments are misleading and the quote you supply is complete nonsense. Whoever wrote it didn't know what they were talking about. First, Needham does not explain why he thinks movable type had to have been transmitted from Asia instead of invented independently in both locales. The fact is there is no evidence of such a transmission and therefore Gutenberg was the inventor of movable type, if not for Asia, then *for Europe* (and by extension, the world). Gutenberg's accomplishment was prodigious. He overcame multiple technical challenges to make mass-scale printing a viable industry: the use of a feasible oil-based ink; the speedy production of metal typeface; his adaptation of the screw press previously used for winemaking; his construction that allowed the pressing power exerted by the plates on the paper to be applied both evenly and with the sudden elasticity that was needed; the introduction of a movable under-table with a plane surface on which the sheets could be swiftly changed. The printing PRESS, emphatically, was not invented in Asia. The Asian method consisted of a sheet of movable type underneath the paper, and the paper was pressed onto the metal by hand, vastly more time-consuming. It was not a mechanized process in the way Gutenberg's was and by definition not a press. The history speaks for itself: after Bi Sheng invented his version of movable type, there was no massive printing revolution as there was in Europe, though it was an improvement over handwritten manuscripts, to be sure. If it could be shown that Gutenberg received the concept of movable type by transmission (or 'diffusion' as Needham put it) from Asia, then Bi Sheng would have some share in it, but as that evidence is lacking - and as there isn't even any probable cause for the conjecture - then the glory is all Gutenberg's. I'm sorry to disappoint you but I hope this clears up your confusion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.42.45.62 (talk) 05:28, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Your comments are too lengthy and what you want to say is not clear. Avoid multiple usage of words like "glory" or "prodigious". Be strictly factual. The question is who (where) was the first inventor. We are ot discussing who was the greatest. Give the facts. Year, name, and citations. This is Wikipedia, not a blog !!!--79.244.13.193 (talk) 20:48, 11 February 2013 (UTC)
Isn't it rather unlikely that Chinese books, before the modern era, consisted of what we call "TYPE"? A speculation as to why Gutenberg's work set the world on fire and Bi Sheng's didn't is that Chinese words were not (or were they? others know more about this than I do) formed from LETTERS until far-later transcription-systems. If you're printing something in Chinese that has a vocabulary of 10,000 words, you need 10,000 blocks. If it's in English (I'm avoiding Gutenberg's German because for all I know he printed more Latin and I have no idea if HIS German was as riddled with umlauts and other such as today's is), you still only need, what, maybe 75 racks if you throw in a lot of punctuation? Each rack is full of dozens of the same letter or punctuation-symbol, each type-slug formed by the same mass-production process. The production of Chinese words wouldn't have had these same economies. If all I know is that Bi-Sheng devised PRINTING, I still don't know if Bi-Sheng's printing used a PRESS and the words were formed out of letters. If those two claims are NOT true of Bi-Sheng, then the world-changing importance of printing doesn't start with Bi-Sheng.69.86.131.77 (talk) 07:33, 29 May 2013 (UTC)Christopher L. Simpson

Gutenberg in fiction[edit]

A fictional account of Gutenberg's life is described in Tom Harper's novel "The Book of Secrets". — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rajukv13 (talkcontribs) 09:03, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

change location of a sentence[edit]

This is a very simple edit. For purposes of chronologic flow of his early life, a sentence about his father's death and inheritance showed be moved up in the article by one paragraph. The paragraphs affected are pasted below, with the corrected paragraphs below that.

Incorrect flow here, with affected sentence in BOLD type:

In 1411, there was an uprising in Mainz against the patricians, and more than a hundred families were forced to leave. As a result, the Gutenbergs are thought to have moved to Eltville am Rhein (Alta Villa), where his mother had an inherited estate. According to historian Heinrich Wallau, "All that is known of his youth is that he was not in Mainz in 1430. It is presumed that he migrated for political reasons to Strassburg (Strasbourg), where the family probably had connections."[5] He is assumed to have studied at the University of Erfurt, where there is a record of the enrolment of a student called Johannes de Altavilla in 1418—Altavilla is the Latin form of Eltville am Rhein.[6][7]

Nothing is now known of Gutenberg's life for the next fifteen years, but in March 1434, a letter by him indicates that he was living in Strasbourg, where he had some relatives on his mother's side. He also appears to have been a goldsmith member enrolled in the Strasbourg militia. In 1437, there is evidence that he was instructing a wealthy tradesman on polishing gems, but where he had acquired this knowledge is unknown. In 1436/37 his name also comes up in court in connection with a broken promise of marriage to a woman from Strasbourg, Ennelin.[8] Whether the marriage actually took place is not recorded. 'Following his father's death in 1419, he is mentioned in the inheritance proceedings.'

Corrected Paragraphs and flow here:

In 1411, there was an uprising in Mainz against the patricians, and more than a hundred families were forced to leave. As a result, the Gutenbergs are thought to have moved to Eltville am Rhein (Alta Villa), where his mother had an inherited estate. According to historian Heinrich Wallau, "All that is known of his youth is that he was not in Mainz in 1430. It is presumed that he migrated for political reasons to Strassburg (Strasbourg), where the family probably had connections."[5] He is assumed to have studied at the University of Erfurt, where there is a record of the enrolment of a student called Johannes de Altavilla in 1418—Altavilla is the Latin form of Eltville am Rhein.[6][7] 'Following his father's death in 1419, he is mentioned in the inheritance proceedings.'


Nothing is now known of Gutenberg's life for the next fifteen years, but in March 1434, a letter by him indicates that he was living in Strasbourg, where he had some relatives on his mother's side. He also appears to have been a goldsmith member enrolled in the Strasbourg militia. In 1437, there is evidence that he was instructing a wealthy tradesman on polishing gems, but where he had acquired this knowledge is unknown. In 1436/37 his name also comes up in court in connection with a broken promise of marriage to a woman from Strasbourg, Ennelin.[8] Whether the marriage actually took place is not recorded. Following his father's death in 1419, he is mentioned in the inheritance proceedings.

This change in location of the sentence puts his fathers death in 1419 right after his enrollment at the University of Erfurt in 1418, and makes more chronologic sense and flow. Aptdoc (talk) 13:23, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

Was he a humanist??[edit]

German Renaissance article states Gutenberg as a free thinker and humanist. Kindly help me in understanding whether he was a proclaimed humanist or free thinker. As per this article, and some other sources on internet, he was a blacksmith, a goldsmith and an inventor, and there is no mention of humanism and free thinking in his context. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Exploringthedepth (talkcontribs) 07:00, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

Can anyone link up his Aachen magic mirror enterprise with Chinese versions?[edit]

In what follows I rely on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_magic_mirror (busted for having used Wikipedia as a source for Wikipedia, let me source this then to the sources for THAT article, sourcing by reference) and, in the unlikely event that my memory is accurate, the ancient-China episode of TV's "What The Ancients Knew". A Chinese magic mirror (but with a Christian symbol as the back design and miraculous reflection) seems to me to be the ideal magical mysterious item for sale to religious pilgrims visiting long-dead Charlemagne's Aachen. Gutenberg's billed as a goldsmith, not bronzesmith, but is gold-to-bronze a greater leap than his accepted leap from gold to lead? (I uncertainly assume his type-slugs were predominantly lead.) And mightn't more pilgrims be able to afford mirrors of bronze than of gold? I recall the televised process of manufacturing such mirrors as quite labor-intensive, repeated pressurized re-polishing for interminable periods. That process could be feasible in an Emperor's household where wealth was vast and labor-costs (held to a minimum by slavery) untracked, but might not be economically viable in a medieval European smith's shop squeezed by market forces to allocate labor efficiently. I speculate that the optical-metallurgical trick could have been discovered under this laborious process only by accident, an accident unlikely to be duplicated independently under those different economics in medieval Europe. If Europeans like Gutenberg possessed this knowledge (for his Aachen plan) and yet couldn't have discovered this knowledge themselves, how can we be sure it didn't reach him via a multi-national multi-generational path connecting medieval Western Europe with ancient China? Were the Guilds tasked with preserving trade-secrets?, If so, and they acquired knowledge from China, would they leave traces allowing today's historians to KNOW as much? If Gutenberg got the inside dope on magic mirrors via this path from ancient China, isn't it possible that SOME (definitely not all) of his thinking about printing came along the same path? What I wouldn't give to have the resources to have these speculations tracked down and ruled in or out.69.86.131.77 (talk) 09:35, 29 May 2013 (UTC)Christopher L. Simpson

Since these Chinese mirrors seem to died out several centuries before Gutenberg (and none seem to survive today), and there is no sign that his mirrors used special technology, it seems vanishingly unlikely there was any connection. Later type-pieces were made of lead, tin and antimony & perhaps G used a similar alloy, which should not have taken him far outside his training. Johnbod (talk) 12:21, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Age discrepancy[edit]

There is a discrepancy between the age appearing in parentheses next to his death (70) and the age calculated by subtracting 1395 from 1468 (=73). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Panda2005 (talkcontribs) 19:34, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Gutenberg's date of birth is unknown (meaning: there is no pertinent documentary evidence), all his birth dates given in the literature are just conjectures. He was probably about 70 years old when he died, but we simply cannot know (or compute) his age exactly. --HHill (talk) 20:59, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Annotation to pronunciation?[edit]

The pronunciation given for Gutenberg's name is American English and could be marked as such to help readers avoid the assumption that this is the correct German pronunciation. 88.217.118.221 (talk) 15:50, 28 November 2014 (UTC)

Red question icon with gradient background.svg Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. — {{U|Technical 13}} (etc) 19:15, 28 November 2014 (UTC)