Biblia Pauperum


The development of printed books shifted the practice of design as information could be disseminated more efficiently due to mass production. Woodblock printing is the carving of text and images into a block of wood that is then inked and can be printed repeatedly to mass produce a specific message. The technique of woodblock printing originated in Asia and traveled to Europe during the 14th century due to an increase in cultural exchange during that time. 

The Biblia Pauperum was created around 1470 and is a block book, a woodblock book printed on one side of the page due to the process of rubbing required to transfer the ink from the woodblock to the page, which utilizes text and imagery to convey Christian religious texts to the reader. The hand carved text is similar to that of a manuscript because the page could be planned through sketching before the woodblock was carved. Unlike moveable type printing that developed in Europe during the 15th century, the text within the block book was not required to follow rigid typeset lines and could change shape to fit within decorative boxes around the page illustrations. The characters were carved directly from handwriting thus emulating the process of traditional manuscript writing while increasing the number of books that could be produced. 

Biblia Pauperum, an early printed block book
Biblia Pauperum, an early printed block book