News & Events

Page from original Gutenberg Bible on display in Rawlings Scriptorium

By Mitzi Bible, October 31, 2019

Liberty University recently received a single page from the Gutenberg Bible, dating between 1450-1455 and valued in excess of $100,000.

Photo by KJ Jugar

The original leaf is the first page of the Book of Acts and was provided to the university’s Rawlings Scriptorium by The Rawlings Foundation and brothers Harold, George, Herb, and Carrol Rawlings.

According to the scriptorium curator Gene Albert, the page is one of several known to collectors as “Noble Fragments” — individual pages sold from an original copy by noted bookseller and antique dealer Gabriel Wells.

“It was defective; the book had about 20-30 pages that were messed up, so he sold the other pages off one by one, around 1920 for $150 each,” he said.

The Gutenberg Bible, originally printed in Latin, is one of the most valuable printed books in the world; only 49 of the 180 original books exist today. With Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of movable type, the Bible became the first printed book in Europe and revolutionized printing in the West.

“There aren’t many places where the public can view the Gutenberg Bible; some are in collections and some are in institutions but aren’t accessible, so it’s important to have that page here,” Albert said. “We are so appreciative of the Rawlings family and their support of Liberty.”

The page is the latest addition to the scriptorium, which is located at the base of Liberty’s Freedom Tower in the John W. Rawlings School of Divinity. Visitors to the scriptorium can learn more about the Gutenberg Bible in a special display that includes a life-size replica model of the Gutenberg Press.

The scriptorium is free and open to the public. The latest feature exhibit, “Women and the Bible,” includes information and items from women throughout history who helped further the Gospel message. For more information or to schedule a visit, including group tours, email scriptorium@liberty.edu.

Get the e-magazine straight to your inbox!

It only takes a click to unsubscribe.