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ascribed the honor of the invention of the Art of Typography, was John Gutenberg, * a native of Mentz. He was of honorable descent; his family being included among the junckers and nobility, the equestrian order of the country, and possessing a small estate situated in the neighbourhood of Mentz, called Sulgeloch, on which estate he was born, about the year 1399. His father, Frielo, had besides him, an elder son, Conrad, who died some time previous to the year 1424, and Frielo, a younger, who
was living in 1459; and two daughters, Bertha and Hebele, both of whom became nuns in the Convent of St. Clair at Mentz. In addition to the above-mentioned estate, the family
* Variously named in contemporary documents, Johannes Gutenberg; Johannes de Moguntia, dictus Gutenberg; Johannes dictus Gensefleisch, junior, dictus Gutenberg; Johannes Gansefleisch, dictus Sulgeloch vel Sorgenloch ; Henne Gensfleisch, genant Sulgeloch; Hans Genzefleisch von Mentz, genant Gutenberg. In English Gansefleisch would be written Gooseflesh; in Latin, Ansicarus.
owned two houses in the city of Mentz, one of which was called ‘Zum Gansfleisch,' and the other ‘Zum Gutenberg.' The latter of these formed part of the property of his mother, Elsy of Gutenberg. John Gutenberg, junior, * left Mentz in early life for
* MEERMAN, and a few other writers, make mention of two John Gutenbergs, brothers, both of whom are spoken of as inventors of Typography; the elder, known as John Gansfleisch, dying, so it is stated, in 1462. The reason of this seems to be, that some one was wanted to fill the position of the thief, who, according to the tale of Junius, stole from Janssoen, the Coster of Haarlem, the moveable types he had recently invented. As John Gutenberg, junior, could not be fixed upon, and there was no other method of bringing discredit upon his claim, and as the alleged thief was a John somebody, John Gansfleisch, senior, assumed to be elder brother to John junior, was thought of; and from him, it is asserted, the younger brother obtained his knowledge of the art of printing. The authority on which Meerman relied appears to be a document first published by Köhler (Ehrenrettung Guttenberg's), in which it is stated, that in 1443 John Gansfleisch the elder hired a house at Mentz, his birthplace. Santander says, the phrase was used because John Gutenberg's uncle having died about this time, he had in reality become the elder. Later writers agree with Santander
Strasburg, where he settled and obtained rights of citizenship, and established himself in business as a polisher of precious stones, and a mirror and looking-glass manufacturer, in both which arts he is said to have shewn considerable skill. The precise date of his arrival and settlement in Strasburg has not been ascertained, but that it was prior to 1424 is known from a letter written to his sister Bertha, on the 24th March of that year ;* probably it was about the year 1420, and may have been occasioned by the political disturbances of the time.
that the elder Gansfleisch here referred to was an uncle to Gutenberg junior, but they do not admit his death at this time. Being named after him, he was probably his godfather, and may have been living with him in Strasburg in 1443. It was to his house that Gutenberg junior went, on his return to Mentz.
*“To the worthy nun Bertha, in the Convent of St. Clair, at Mentz, health and fraternal good wishes. My dear sister, with respect to what you say of the rents and money which were left to you by our brother Conrad, whom God bless, by his last will; that often and for a long time past, they have not been paid to you, and that they are still owing to you, and amount as you say to a considerable sum; I have to inform you, that, upon giving a receipt, you may receive the sum of twenty florins (of gold) out of my rents and revenues, coming as you know, from Mentz, and other places; by applying to Joh. Dringelter, the wax chandler ; Veronica Mystersen, at Seilhoven; or at Mentz, and various other places, of which Pedirman can inform you; as at Lorzwiller, Bodenheim, and Murminheym. I purpose, if it please God, to have the pleasure of seeing you before long, and to arrange the matter with Pedirman, so that your property may be promptly delivered to you, according to the terms and intention of the will. I await your answer upon this subject. Given at Strasburg; feriâ quintâ post dominicam (the 24th March) M.CCCC.XX.IIII.”
His name frequently appears in the city documents and registers, and he occasionally visited Mentz. He left Strasburg finally about the
year 1444. Of great natural sagacity, gifted with
inventive genius, and of indomitable perseverance, the increasing thirst for knowledge which at this period was everywhere manifesting itself, arrested his attention, and
(Signed) “HENNE GENSFLEISCH, called Sulgeloch.” - Santander, from Oberlin's “Essai d’Annales de la Vie de J. Gutenberg," pp. 3, 4.
convinced him of the desirability, as well as the profitableness, of devising some method for its more ready and abundant supply.
The problem of the mechanical multiplication of manuscripts had already been partially solved in the block - books which were manufactured in Holland. In the study of these, Gutenberg perceived the immense advantages which would follow from having every letter made separate, with sufficient quantities of each to allow of their being combined into words, sentences, and pages, instead of continuously engraving whole series of lines in solid blocks as in the specimens before him. That idea once clearly seen, time and patience, with the ability to engrave, were all that were required for its realization, so far at least as concerned the mere making of the types or letters. The first experiments would naturally be, as indeed we are informed they were, on wood. And one can well imagine the flush of triumph