Whether it’s celebrating life’s special moments, showing how much we care for someone or ensuring our wishes are fulfilled, the importance of paper is felt in our lives in many ways. Beyond being part of our normal routine, paper has also played a pivotal role in changing the world.
Here are some examples that demonstrate the importance of paper to civilizations throughout world history.
1. Gutenberg Bible
The earliest full-scale work printed in Europe using moveable type, the Gutenberg Bible is one of the rarest and most influential books in world history. Historians have estimated German inventor Johannes Gutenberg printed 180 copies of the Bible during the early 1450s. Although no two are exactly alike, most of the Bibles contain 1,286 pages bound in two volumes. Only 49 copies have survived the centuries, and they are housed in library, university and museum collections. The last sale of a complete Gutenberg Bible occurred in 1978 for $2.2 million. A lone volume was later sold to a Japanese buyer for $5.4 million in 1987 — at the time, a record auction price for a printed book. Experts estimate a complete copy could fetch more than $35 million at auction today.