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Five Hundred Years of Printing

Hafsteinn Guðmundsson (1912-1999) wore many hats: designer, bookmaker, teacher, printing house director, and publisher. In 1940, when still an apprentice at printer-publisher Ísafold, he was commissioned to work on a book that is unique in the history of books in Iceland and beyond: Prentlistin fimm hundruð ára (Five Hundred Years of Printing). On the title page of the book and at the beginning of each essay, he drew complex pen-and-ink illustrations. When the book had been assembled, Hafsteinn hand-coloured 135 copies, no two alike. The collection, published by Ísafold at the behest of the Icelandic Printers’ Association, was issued to commemorate the quincentenary of Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of typesetting and printing. The Icelandic Bookmakers’ Guild has donated several copies of the book to the National and University Library of Iceland.

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