Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More on the Gutenberg Museum

I hope you’ll excuse the random order of these travel notes. Internet access has been catch-as-catch-can, and I’m just writing up recollections as they come to me.

One display in particular at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz perturbed me. I’m quite certain it is wrong. The display shows a form of locked-up type that purports to be a modern recreation of one of the pages of the 42-line Bible printed in Mainz. Next to it is a proof drawn from the form. Only the person who created this display has made a horrible mistake. As I explained nearly three years ago, a cursory inspection of the printed page of the real Gutenberg Bible (and the museum has a couple of spectacular specimens on display) shows that the end-of-line hyphens showing that a word is divided were added by hand, with quill and ink; they were not printed from cast type.

The person who composed the alleged recreation, though, made a hyphen mold, cast some hyphens, and set the page using hanging punctuation. I don’t think there is any evidence that Gutenberg did such a thing, and I hope the display is eventually corrected. But I’m not holding my breath.

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