The Gutenberg Bible, says Margaret Leslie Davis unequivocally, is 'a masterpiece of world culture... the most beautiful work of printing the world has ever known'...
The Gutenberg Bible was sold to a company in Tokyo for $5.4 million. A high-resolution photographic version was made and placed online. The original has been secured in an air-conditioned vault in total darkness with all access to it denied.
Scholars, 'no matter how qualified,' will never see it again — unless something radical happens, which, as we have seen, has always been the pattern with the book in the past.
Were it to come on the market today, its price would be in the $100 million range. To put it in perspective, my own complete works are available on Amazon for less than 10p, and contain more laughs.
In a fluently told, well-executed history, Davis takes us back through the line of owners who previously possessed what is known in the rare books trade as Gutenberg Number 45. In identifying the motivations of these wealthy “bibliomaniacs”, she not only shines a light on the stories of several fascinating custodianships, but also reveals something about those who are driven to collect books, whether they search out first editions of a favoured novelist or pursue a Gutenberg Bible... This is, at heart, and with heart, an entertaining and insightful human story of obsession about books, and a telling examination of what inspires those who catch the collecting bug.