The University Library recently opened a new exhibition in the Ellen and Leonard Milberg Gallery [an online version is available], titled “Gutenberg & After: Europe’s First Printers 1450–1470.” Curated by Scheide Librarian Paul Needham and Curator of Rare Books Eric White, it is the first exhibition to focus on this early period of European printing, featuring loaned items from the United Kingdom never before seen in the United States and items from U.S. collections displayed outside their home libraries for the first time.
While exhibits honoring Johannes Gutenberg — the German man credited with creating the printing press in Europe — and early European printing have been mounted before, “Gutenberg & After” marks the first exhibition focusing closely and comprehensively on the first two decades of European printing. Rather than tracking the development of printing over a broad period of time or wide historical context, the curators chose to highlight printing accomplishments and innovations specifically within the early years.
An online version of the exhibit, featuring digitized images and in-depth descriptions, may be explored at dpul.princeton.edu.
From the Online Exhibition Website:
Gutenberg’s invention of typography eventually revolutionized the world of text production and distribution. One early printer boasted that a printing shop could produce more in a day than a scribe could in a year, and the ratio is approximately correct. But the printing craft did not produce an immediate explosion. The first two decades of European printing, 1450-1470, have a pace of their own, and these years contain long overlooked mysteries. Much of our knowledge resides in the evidence of fragments of otherwise lost editions, which stand in the shadow of such famous monuments as the Gutenberg Bible and the 1457 Mainz Psalter. The early decades were of deep interest to John H. Scheide (1875–1942, Princeton 1896) who brought the Gutenberg Bible into his private library; and the same decades became a passion for the Bach scholar William H. Scheide (1914–2014, Princeton 1936), who built on his father’s collection, and himself made a significant contribution to our knowledge of the influence of the Gutenberg Bibles.
As a result, through “Bill” Scheide’s spectacular bequest, Princeton University owns one of the world’s great collections of earliest European printing. The present exhibition, surveying this period, highlights the century-long collecting program of the two Scheides, father and son. But no single collection, anywhere, is fully comprehensive. Through the generosity of other great libraries, the exhibition has been immeasurably widened and enriched. The loans from England in particular include treasures of early printing that have never before been seen in America, and many of the loans from American libraries have never before gone beyond their walls.
Direct to Online Version of Exhibition