Sunday, March 02, 2003

The Gutenberg Bible Mystery

We are currently trying to unravel a mystery that surrounds Jack Fuller's bequest of a copy of the Gutenberg Bible to his old school, Eton College. This two-volume Bible is described as a "perfect paper copy... with contemporary pigskin over wooden boards. Blind-stamped by Johann Fogel of Erfurt...the only copy in a binding by Fogel which bears his name stamped in blind on the covers. John Fuller of Rosehill, Sussex presented this copy to Eton in 1841."
John Fuller died on 11 Apr 1834. It seems odd that this gift, bequeathed by Fuller in his will took 7 years to makes its way to Eton College's Library. I contacted Eton College and received this reply from Penny Hatfield:

As far as we are aware the College's copy of the Bible was a bequest from the Fuller who dies(sic) in 1834 and came to the College in that year. Records of gifts at that period are almost non-existent so I suppose it is possible that it did not actually arrive in the Library until some time later, but certainly we have always viewed it as acquired in 1834.

Douglas Clausen of Clausen Books of Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA, editor of the Gutenberg Bible Census page, writes:

I have double-checked my sources, and all indicate that 1841 was the date that the copy was donated to John Fuller of Rose Hill, Sussex.

It is entirely possible that an early researcher got his facts wrong and the error was perpetuated by all the other scholars, or perhaps Mad Jack's family didn't hand over the bible until 1841.

We may never resolve this discrepancy. Can anyone shed any light on the subject?

1 comment:

Jean-Paul Fontaine, dit Le Bibliophile Rhemus said...

La Bible de Gutenberg de la Bibliothèque du Collège d'Eton semble être l'exemplaire de Léon d’Ourches [Catalogue de vente, 1811, n° 3, 1.901 francs], donné par John Fuller en 1841 ; la reliure originale est en ais de bois et cuir estampé par Johann Fogel d’Erfurt, avec coins, milieux et fermoirs en métal.
Claudine Lemaire [Gutenberg-Jahrbuch, 1993, p. 21-24] prétend que c'est l'exemplaire de la comtesse Anne d'Yve, vendu 1.750 florins, au libraire londonien Thomas Payne, en 1819.
Le mystère s'épaissit ....