Blockbooks and wood- and metal-cut prints

The European blockbooks in this collection were made by printers in German, Dutch, and Italian cities during the second half of the 15th century and at the start of the 16th century. Books were printed from woodblocks even after Gutenberg’s innovation using movable type, around 1450.

Most of the blockbooks are religious works or school texts.  This was a cheap and easy method of printing standard texts, from woodblocks that could endure for a century or more. The woodcut and metalcut prints in this digital collection come from the same period, the second half of the 15th century, and several were used either as added illustrations in books or as book covers.