300 sheep in the (Gutenberg) bible

It has been calculated that each copy of the Gutenburg Bible required the skins of 300 sheep.

– from an article on printing

Nearly 600 years ago in 1439, Johannes Gutenberg unvieled his movable-type printing press and revolutionized the western world. In those days, though, they still used parchment made from animal hide. It was still a while before paper technology caught up. Billy Collin’s reflects on this in his poem Flock:

I can see them squeezed into the holding pen
behind the stone building
where the printing press is housed

all of them squirming around
to find a little room
and looking so much alike

it would be nearly impossible
to count them,
and there is no telling

which one will carry the news
that the Lord is a shepherd,
one of the few things they already know.

Photo credit