Gutenberg Bible Leaf 1 Samuel 20–22

Collection ID





ca. 1454


Mainz (Germany)




Printed on paper


14.4 × 11.9 × .43 in. (36.5 x 30.2 x 1.1 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on view


This is a page from the first edition of the Gutenberg Bible, the first printed edition of the Bible. The year of the first printing cannot be determined with certainty, but sometime in the middle of the 1450s Gutenberg produced a copy of the Latin Vulgate. The Gutenberg Bible is in two-columns of 42 lines and closely resembles a manuscript using typeset that mimics period handwriting with ornamentation added by hand. This page contains 1 Samuel 20–22 with two large initials in red ink. The upper corner contains a small notation of “141” in pencil, likely indicating that at one point this page was part of a full Gutenberg Bible and was folio number 141.


Printed around 1454 by Johannes Gutenberg, Mainz, Germany. Removed from the so-called “Trier II” Gutenberg Bible copy before 1812, presumably Trier, Germany.[1] Acquired by Theodor Apel (1884–1949), Leipzig and Ermlitz, Germany.[2] Purchased at auction in 1991 by Goetz Kocher-Benzing, Stuttgarter Antiquariat, Germany;[3] Purchased in 1996 at the California Bookfair by Heritage Bookshop, Los Angeles, California.[4] Acquired by 2002 by either Jonathan Byrd or Craig Lampe.[5] Acquired by Jonathan Byrd’s Rare Books, Indiana; Privately purchased in 2010 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Donated in 2012 to Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] This leaf (vol. 1, folio 141) was once part of vol. 1 of the Gutenberg Bible at the Central Library of the Belgian State University, now known as the Trier II copy. The Trier II copy was acquired by Edmond-Félix Puissant (1860–1934) in 1926 and gifted to the city of Mons in 1933 in its current state, that is, lacking 104 leaves. Per Eric Marshall White, leaves from the missing sections began to surface in 1812, at first in the vicinity of Trier, and were distributed among French and German collectors (Eric Marshall White, Editio Princeps: A History of the Gutenberg Bible [Harvey Miller Publishers: London, 2017], 194–201). [2] This leaf was recorded by Paul Schwenke as being in the collection of Theodor Apel (Eric Marshall White, Editio Princeps: A History of the Gutenberg Bible [Harvey Miller Publishers: London, 2017], 200). [3] Information from Goetz Kocher-Benzing of Stuttgarter Antiquariat via email in June 2022. Kocher-Benzing did not recall the name of the German auction house he purchased it from. [4] [5] This leaf appeared on in 2002. is an online showroom and sale website for Bibles and was created by Jonathan Byrd, Craig Lampe, and John Lawton Jeffcoat III.

Museum of the Bible Publications:

Museum of the Bible, Museum of the Bible Curriculum: Acts through the Book of Revelation," vol. 4 (Museum of the Bible and Compedia Software & Hardware Ltd. 2016–2017), 112.

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