<p>How did Gutenberg and his printshop create these peculiar letterforms with metal? Well, from court documents in the years leading up to the printing of this 42-line Bible there’s mention of a secret machine which Gutenberg had destroyed before his debtors could take hold of it. Printing in the 15th century was a clandestine activity and if anyone discovered Gutenberg’s process then he feared he’d lose everything. This might also explain why we have such a fragmented history of Johannes and his workshop.</p>

<p>Regardless of this startling lack of evidence, we know that Gutenberg combined preexisting technologies alongside creating his own tools.<sup class="footnote-ref"><a href="#fn6" id="fnref6">1</a></sup> There were three crucial parts to his workshop’s cloak and dagger process: the counterpunch and matrix, the type mould and the printing press.<sup class="footnote-ref"><a href="#fn7" id="fnref7">2</a></sup></p>


  <li id="fn6" class="footnote-item">
    <p>Keith Houston on Gutenberg in <a href="http://ilovetypography.com/2016/09/02/the-prints-and-the-pauper/">The Prints and the Pauper</a>: <em>“…if Gutenberg is to be credited with anything it must be that he made it work—that aided by the comparatively economical Latin alphabet he systematically tackled each aspect of a finicky, delicate process until he had perfected it. If calligraphic ink did not meet his needs, he would look elsewhere; if embossed characters were too costly to cut individually, he would find a way to produce them in bulk; and if a firm hand was necessary to get the best impression of the printed page, he would choose tools and materials that could withstand that pressure. Johannes Gutenberg was not the father of printing so much as its midwife.”</em> <a href="#fnref6" class="footnote-backref">↩︎</a></p>

  <li id="fn7" class="footnote-item">
    <p>I’m glossing over much of the type design and printing process here but I think it’s safe to say that this is a relatively fair summary of Gutenberg’s contribution. <a href="#fnref7" class="footnote-backref">↩︎</a></p>
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