A Noble Fragment
Being a Leaf of the Gutenberg Bible (1450–55)
New York: Gabriel Wells, 1921
Call No: ff Incunab.*
A Noble Fragment is a single leaf from the first book printed in the West, the 42-line Latin Bible published by Johann Gutenberg and Johann Fust in Mainz, Germany. Its gothic typeface and decorative patterns are almost indistinguishable from the handwriting styles typical of late medieval manuscripts. The folio is part of a “leaf book,” which is a type of limited edition publication that presents a single leaf or small group of leaves from real antiquarian books or manuscripts, usually illustrative of certain typographical or paleographical styles. The impetus behind making leaf books, which were most common at the turn of the twentieth century, was almost always the poor physical condition of a valuable printed book or manuscript (along with commercial opportunity).