Journal Article

<i>Ad Fontes</i>: A New Look at the Watermarks on Paper Copies of the Gutenberg Bible

Isabel Feder McCarthy

in The Library

Volume 17, issue 2, pages 115-137
Published in print June 2016 | ISSN: 0024-2160
Published online June 2016 | e-ISSN: 1744-8581 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/library/17.2.115
Ad Fontes: A New Look at the Watermarks on Paper Copies of the Gutenberg Bible

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This article reassesses the foundations for the widely held view that the paper used to print surviving paper copies of the Gutenberg Bible came from Piedmont. Starting with a summary of past research into the Bible’s watermarks by scholars ranging from Samuel Leigh Sotheby to Paul Needham, it goes on to review comments regarding the provenance of comparable watermarks made by the Swiss watermark collector Charles-Moïse Briquet in Les Filigranes. Facts about early papermaking in Basel, images of watermarks published on the Austrian website WZMA, and insights obtained from Theo Gerardy’s book Das Papier der Seckelmeisterrechnungen von Freiburg i.Ue. 1402–1465 are followed by some historical background on the Duchy of Savoy. After recommending ways to facilitate systematic investigation of the Gutenberg Bible’s watermarks and paper characteristics, the article suggests that the Bible’s paper was made not in Piedmont, but elsewhere in the Duchy of Savoy and/or in Basel.

Journal Article.  8525 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; Bibliography ; Museums, Libraries, and Information Sciences

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