August 14 – Oldest Printed Book (kind of)

Posted on August 14, 2013

You've undoubtedly heard about the hugely important 1450 invention of German printer Johannes Gutenberg: the movable-type printing press. 

You may not realize that Chinese and Korean inventors had invented much earlier versions of printing presses, and that other European printers had tinkered with movable type as well—but Gutenberg gets the credit because his innovations on the idea made printing practical and relatively inexpensive.

And because the idea really took off!

The printing press shook up society and is arguably one of the factors that created a middle class, universal education, and mass media.

The first books printed on Gutenberg's press were Bibles (now known as the Gutenberg Bible). However, we don't know the exact dates that Gutenberg printed his Bibles. We do know the exact date for the Mainz Psalter, a book of Psalms (praise songs from the Bible). And that exact date is August 14, 1457.

So today really is the date of the oldest printed book whose exact date of publication we actually know.

Celebrate today by trying to find the oldest copyright date on any of your books. Go to the library and try to beat that by finding an even earlier copyright date!

Here are some old and oldish books I like—can you find them?

For young children:
Poppy, the Adventures of a Fairy, by Anne Perez-Guerra (1942) 

For elementary ages:
Five Children and It, by E. Nesbit (1902)

A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1904)

Paddle to the Sea, by Holling C. Holling (1941) 

Star Girl, by Henry Winterfeld (1956)

For pre-teens and teens:
Ivanhoe, by Walter Scott (1819)

An Old-Fashioned Girl, by Louisa May Alcott (1869)

A Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton-Porter (1909)

Also on this date:

Plan ahead:

Here are my Pinterest pages on August holidayshistorical anniversaries in August, and August birthdays.

1 comment:

  1. I just thought of another old book I loved as a child:

    The Good Master, by Kate Seredy (1935)