Sunday August 15, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The First Book

On this Day:

In 1457, the earliest dated book, “Mainz Psalter,” was completed.  Well, except for the fact that it may not have, like, actually, been the first book…it was certainly the first in many respects, but just not the first to have been like, printed and ...completed…there was a certain well-known predecessor…that had its genesis on the Gutenberg printing press…

The Mainz Psalter was the second major book printed with movable type in the West; the first was the Gutenberg Bible. It is a psalter commissioned by the Mainz archbishop in 1457. The Psalter introduced several innovations: it was the first book to feature a printed date of publication, a printed colophon, two sizes of type, printed decorative initials, and the first to be printed in three colours. The colophon also contains the first example of a printer’s mark. It was the first important publication issued by Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer following their split from Johannes Gutenberg.

The Psalter combines printed text with two-colour woodcuts: since both woodcuts and movable print are relief processes, they could be printed together on the same press. The Psalter is printed using black and red inks, with two-colour initials, and large coloured capitals printed in blue and red inks. These capitals were partly the work of the artisan known as the Fust master, who later also worked for Fust and Schöffer on the 1462 Bible. The musical score accompanying the psalms was provided in manuscript, and may have been the model for the type style. Printing in two colors, although feasible on the moveable press of Gutenberg’s time (as illustrated by the Mainz Psalter), was apparently abandoned soon afterward as being too time-consuming, as few other examples of such a process are extant.

Two versions were printed, the short issue and long issue. The short has 143 leaves, and the long has 175 and was intended for use in the diocese of Mainz. All surviving copies and fragments are on vellum, and it is not known if any paper copies were printed. At least one copy was still being used in services in a monastery in the mid-eighteenth century.

The Psalter is the earliest European book with a printed date of publication, though not the first printed book to feature a date associated with its production: in August 1456 the binder and rubricator of a copy of the Gutenberg Bible added handwritten dates to show when these tasks were completed.

The colophon can be translated as follows:

This volume of the Psalms, adorned with a magnificence of capital letters and clearly divided by rubrics, has been fashioned by a mechanical process of printing and producing characters, without use of a pen, and it was laboriously completed, for God’s Holiness, by Joachim Fust, citizen of Mainz, and Peter Schoeffer of Gernsheim, on Assumption Eve [August 14] in the year of Our Lord, 1457.
New editions, using the same type, were printed in 1459 (dated August 29), 1490, 1502 (Schöffer’s last publication) and 1516.

It is “the second printed book ever published, and the first with rubricated (red as well as black) printing”. There are only ten copies in existence, and as such, this book is rarer than the Gutenberg Bible.

Many fragments also survive. The ten known copies of the 1457 edition are listed below:

  • Berlin State Library. Long issue
  • Saxon State Library, Dresden. Long issue. Looted during World War II and taken to the USA, until returned in 1950.[10]
  • Darmstadt University and Public Library. Short issue
  • Austrian National Library. Long issue.
  • French National Library, Paris. Long issue
  • Municipal Library, Angers. Short issue
  • British Library, London. Short issue. Bequeathed by Thomas Grenville. On display in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery
  • Royal Library, Windsor. Short issue. Acquired by George III from the University of Göttingen.
  • John Rylands Library, Manchester. Short issue. Bought from 5th Earl Spencer in 1892. Earlier bought by 2nd Earl Spencer from the German monastery of Rot an der Rot in 1798.
  • Scheide Library, Princeton University, New Jersey. Short issue (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

What did Johann Fust say to Peter Schoeffer? Readers do it by the book.

Second, a Song:

World Book Day, also known as World Book and Copyright Day, or International Day of the Book, is an annual event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing, and copyright. The first World Book Day was celebrated on 23 April in 1995, and continues to be recognized on that day. A related event in the United Kingdom and Ireland is observed in March.

The original idea came from the Catalan “Dia del Llibre” or day of the Book celebrated in Catalonia each April 23rd. In 1995 UNESCO decided that the World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on 23 April, as the date is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, as well as that of the birth or death of several other prominent authors. (In a historical coincidence, Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same date — 23 April 1616 — but not on the same day, as at the time, Spain used the Gregorian calendar and England used the Julian calendar; Shakespeare actually died 10 days after Cervantes died, on 3 May of the Gregorian calendar) (per Wikipedia).

Stanley Kirk Burrell (born March 30, 1962), known professionally as MC Hammer (or simply Hammer), is an American rapper, dancer, record producer and entrepreneur who had his greatest commercial success and popularity from the late 1980s until the early 1990s. Remembered for his rapid rise to fame, Hammer is known for songs (such as “U Can’t Touch This” and “2 Legit 2 Quit”), flashy dance movements, choreography and eponymous Hammer pants.

A multi-award winner, MC Hammer is considered a “forefather/pioneer” and innovator of pop-rap (incorporating elements of freestyle music) and is the first hip hop artist to achieve diamond status for an album. BET ranked Hammer as the No. 7 “Best Dancer Of All Time”. Vibe’s “The Best Rapper Ever Tournament” declared him the 17th favorite of all-time during the first round. Hammer’s popularity and success waned by 1992 when he was labeled a sellout by the changing landscape of hip-hop music, leading to financial problems later in life, including a highly publicized bankruptcy in 1996. During this time, Hammer unsuccessfully attempted to appeal to the rise of gangsta rap.

Burrell became a preacher during the late 1990s with a Christian ministry program on TBN called M.C. Hammer and Friends. Additionally, he starred in a Saturday-morning cartoon called Hammerman in 1991 and was executive producer of his own reality show called Hammertime, which aired on the A&E Network during the summer of 2009. Hammer was also a television show host and dance judge on Dance Fever in 2003, was co-creator of a dance website called and is a record label CEO while still performing concerts at music venues and assisting with other social media, ministry and outreach functions. Prior to becoming ordained, Hammer signed with Suge Knight’s Death Row Records in 1995.

Throughout his career, Hammer has managed his own recording business. As a result, he has created and produced his own acts including Ho Frat Hoo!, Oaktown’s 3.5.7, Special Generation, Analise, DRS, B Angie B and Gentry Kozia. A part of additional record labels, he has associated, collaborated and recorded with Psy, VMF, Tupac Shakur, Teddy Riley, Felton Pilate, Tha Dogg Pound, The Whole 9, The Hines Brother, Deion Sanders, Big Daddy Kane, BeBe & CeCe Winans and Jon Gibson (per Wikipedia).

Here is MC Hammer performing “The World Book Day Song” in his video for the first ever “World Book Day”.  I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

Further to the Rocky Horror Picture Show Smile, Frank Fowlie of Richmond, BC, Canada writes:

“What fun this movie is.  I laugh out loud each and every time I see it.  It’s so campy and with such great music!!

Best regards,

Dr. Frank Fowlie”

and Sandy Weames of Campbell River, BC, Canada writes:

“Thanks for the Time Warp David.

I too have seen this show many times.

I believe the last time was when Kate and I had a Halloween Party when we lived on Beach Ave. We showed the Rocky Horror Picture show on laser disc.  We gave out toast and newspapers etc. to throw. You and Colleen must have shown up as Brad and Janet as you went in Halloween costumes.

A good time was had by all.



Further to the Sewing Machine Smile, Eric O’Dell of Surrey, BC, Canada writes:


My mother had a Singer machine, very similar to the one in the video. Out of economic necessity, she was still making trousers for me when I was in grade 12. I can’t remember if Betty had a manual machine, although I do know she used Mom’s. Betty did have a portable electric machine which finally gave up and I tossed it.


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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