The Gutenberg Press

The Gutenberg Press

Sebastian, Vivek

The advent of the printing press in Europe can be credited to three foreign influences, rag paper, block printing and the black death . Rag paper was invited in China by a method of taking old rags and creating a pulp with water, which was then pressed into sheets. These sheets of paper were far more economical then parchment or vellum of the time, which were made from sheepskin or calfskin. In fact it took close to 170 calfskins or 300 sheepskins to make one bible, the invention of rag paper was not only easier but economical. Block printing, created initially in Korea did not become popular in Europe due to the fact that wooden blocks wore out too quickly, but due to the revival of towns and trade brought a boom to the mining industry especially in Germany, the blocks were able to be carved out of gold and copper. These metals proved to be durable enough to print paper in massive quantities. Finally the the black death killed many of the monks who had the skill of copying  texts and making the cost of copying rise exponentially while the price of paper dropped. Finally Gutenberg created the first printing press by combine previous technologies along with his new technique of hand molding allowed for the creation of multiple copies of movable metal parts made it far more easy to creating printing blocks. Initially the early print media had to adopt the handwritten style of manuscript books. Eventually readers were comfortable with the idea of printed books and accepted the new form of print.

The effects of the printing press on European society were nothing short of dramatic. The first major effect was the spread of information rapidly and accurately. Which in short lauded the creation of a more literate reading public within Europe, allowing a celebration of not only religious reading but literature on many more topics. Secondly this allowed scientist from different parts of to print their findings and share them with fellow scientists from different parts of Europe. By the 1600’s the age of scientific revolution and enlightenment had begun largely thanks to the identification of a unified scientific community all across Europe. The printing press also took away the churches monopoly on their ability to copy works of literature and therefore devalue the churches abilities of control and censorship. The Protestant Reformation gained such massive support mainly through Lutheran’s works that were sold in rapid succession throughout Europe at the time. In short the printing press lead to the publics ability to new knowledge, scientific thought and paved the way for modern freedom from censorship.


Image source:

Information source: