One of the many wonderful things about San Francisco is the way that new technology and old can sometimes co-exist. Like my website—built, I am proud to say, aboard a boat floating in San Francisco Bay. There are hazards, I’m sure: once a storm knocked out the T-1 line overnight. But my designer’s berth on the East Bay shoreline helps me feel connected to my home city every time I log on.
Connecting is the whole reason I built the site in the first place. Like any proud parent, I wanted to share every little thing about the new being I had brought into the world. More than anything, I wanted readers to see the beautiful images that had helped me to really envision the medieval world of Mainz, and the exquisite leaves of the Gutenberg Bible. I think of these images as a gift—a gift I would in no way have been able to offer without the support of the fantastic libraries in which they are housed.
Getting the permissions to reproduce them took weeks and calls in fractured Spanish to the public library in Burgos (which has a copy of the Bible) and many emails to German archives in my not-perfect written Deutsch. How much easier it would have been to pirate—but no person with a conscience could. Although nearly everything is long since in the public domain, in almost every instance there is a library that protects and preserves the 500-year-old volumes from which these woodcuts and reproductions come. We need to support these vaults that preserve our common heritage, paying reasonable fees for reproductions. A hearty thank you to the wonderful archivists in Mainz and Göttingen and the Gutenberg Museum for their kindness in sharing these riches with anyone who logs on to gutenbergsapprentice.com