Arago: Gutenberg Bible Issue

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Gutenberg Bible Issue

A commemorative stamp honoring the 500th anniversary of the printing of the Gutenberg Bible, the first book to be printed from movable type, was issued on September 30, 1952, in Washington, DC, in a ceremony at the Library of Congress. Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (d. 1468), engraver, printer, and inventor from Mainz, Germany, produced the Bible. His moveable type or printing press started a revolution in printing which eventually transformed the world by making the printed word available to the masses. A painting by Edward Laning (1906-1981) titled "Gutenberg showing a proof to the elector of Mainz" appears on the stamp's left side.

Victor S. McCloskey, Jr., designed the stamp, using a photograph of Laning's painting as a model. Arthur W. Dintaman engraved the vignette, and John S. Edmondson engraved the frame, numerals, and lettering. Six 200-subject electric-eye printing plates (#24687-24692) were used on the rotary Stickney Press. Plates were used in pairs on the press, so each rotation of the press produced two sheets of 200 stamps, each of which was divided into four fifty-subject panes for distribution to post offices. Stamps were perforated 11x10.5 and printed on unwatermarked paper.

The 3-cent Gutenberg Bible stamp paid the postage rate for a one ounce first-class domestic letter.


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