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Christianity Blockbook

Apocalypsis Sancti Johannis [The Apocalypse of St. John]. Germany or Netherlands, ca. 1465. NYPL, Rare Book Division.

This version of the Book of Revelation, or the Apocalypse, combines pictures with abbreviated text. It is intended for viewing by the illiterate, under the guidance of a literate person who has prior knowledge of the Book of Revelation and could use the abbreviated text to explain the pictures.

The blockbook printing method derives from textile printing. While its technology preceded mechanical printing, it was still used after the invention of printing with movable type. Words and pictures are transferred by manual pressure on the blank reverse of each leaf, the face of the leaf having been placed on an inked woodblock or woodblocks. Often separate artists carved the illustration and text blocks for each page.

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