The volume of the Gutenberg Bible which is on display at the Guttenberg Public Library is one of a two-volume set which was purchased in the 1940s from the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany.
The volume on display is not one of the Gutenberg originals (of which there are 46 copies still in existence). It is one of a two-volume set of an edition of 310 facsimile sets printed at Leipzig, Germany in 1913 by the Insel-Verlag. Insel-Verlag using a copy of an original reproduced it with modern printing methods
This facsimile copy of the Gutenberg Bible was on display in the Gutenberg print shop in Mainz during an air attack on August 12, 1942, and as a result the covers and some pages along the edges of the volume were damaged by fire and water. However, it was decided not to rebind the book or to trim the burned portions. It was felt that the survival of the book through the bombing was an important part of its history.
No copy of the Gutenberg originals has been offered for sale in recent years. Most of the original bibles are housed in large universities and libraries. The facsimile copies are scattered throughout the world and are considered rare books.
The rare set was purchased by Charles Millham in the 1940s from the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany. Mr. Millham, who was the former editor and publisher of the local newspaper The Guttenberg Press, loaned the Bible to the Guttenberg Library to put on display. This arrangement has been continued by his son, Chuck Millham of Pullman, Washington.