Günther Zainer

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Initial from the German Bible, printed in Augsburg in 1477 by Günther Zainer (facsimile)

Günther Zainer , also Zeyner or Zeiner († April 13, 1478 ) is considered the first printer of the incunable period in Augsburg , where he worked from 1468 until his death; At least 80 prints came from his office , including two German Bible editions and the first printed calendar.


Günther Zainer, like the Ulm printer Johann Zainer , who was probably his brother, but was certainly a relative of his, came from Reutlingen . In 1463 his marriage to Agnes Krieg is recorded in the city register of the city of Strasbourg , where he was also a member of the painters and goldsmiths guild as a citizen of Strasbourg. He probably learned printing there from Johannes Mentelin . In 1468 the printing by him is proven in Augsburg. In 1472 he became a citizen of Augsburg. Along with other masters, Zainer was also head of the newly established printing works at the Augsburg monastery of St. Ulrich and Afra .


Printed book advertisement with a list of the works available in Zainer's office, around 1480

The scope of the production with at least 80 prints from his Augsburg office is considered considerable for the period of ten years during which Günther Zainer worked as a printer. Much of this production was commissioned by the clergy; Zainer also printed popular literature in German, edification writings, pharmacopoeias and calendars.

In 1468 S. Bonaventurae meditationes vite domini appeared as the first documented print from Zainers press. With the German edition of the Legenda Aurea by Jacobus de Voragine , Heiligenleben , he published his first illustrated work. In 1472 a print of the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville appeared in his office in Augsburg. Around 1475 Zainer printed a German Bible edition, which he had a second edition followed in 1477. The text of these editions became authoritative for the following German Bible prints up to the Luther Bible .

Günther Zainer's prints are of particularly high quality in terms of paper, design and type used ; 32 illustrated prints and individual prints, some with more than 100 images, also document his interest in printed book decorations. So developed Zainer along the lines of medieval manuscripts Blumenranken for the edge of the type area , which preceded the printed skirt apply. He adorned his first German Bible with 73 large printed initials , which were also based on the model of book illumination .


  • Karl Steiff:  Zainer, Günther and Johannes . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 44, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1898, pp. 672-674.
  • Karl Falkenstein: History of book printing in its development and training . Leipzig 1840; P. 157
  • Fritz Funke: Book customer . Munich-Pullach 1969; P. 86; P. 164; P. 226; P. 228

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