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Biography of Gutenberg


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GUTENBERG, JOHANNES, or Henne, who is regarded as the inventor of the art of employing movable types in printing, was born near the close of the 14th century, at Mainz. He was sprung from a patrician family, which took the name of Gutenberg, or Gensfleisch, from two estates in its Possession. Of Gutenberg's early life no particulars are known, but it seems probable that he devoted himself at an early age to mechanical arts. When and where the first attempts in the art of printing were made, cannot now with certainty be ascertained, as the works printed by Gutenberg bear neither name nor date; this much however, is certain; namely, that movable wooden types were first employed by him about the year 1438. In 1443, he returned from Strasbourg to Mainz, where in 1449 or 1450 he entered into partnership with Johannes Faust, or Fust, a wealthy goldsmith. Faust furnished the money to set up a printing press, on which the Latin Bible was first printed. This partnership was, however, dissolved after the lapse of a few years. Faust had made large advances which Gutenberg was now to refund, but as he possessed neither the power nor the inclination, the matter was brought before a court of justice. The result was that Faust obtained the printing concern, which he carried on and brought to perfection in conjunction with Peter Schoffer, of Gerusheim. By the assistance of Conrad Hummer, a councillor of Mainz, Gutenberg was again enabled to set up a press. Gutenberg's printing establishment existed until 1465 in Mainz. He died, as is generally believed, February 24th, 1498, in which year the archbishop, Elector of Mainz, appointed him one of his courtiers, and raised him to the rank of a noble, though others place his death at the close of the previous year.