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Magnificent Mainz Psalter - make your own bookmark

Mainz Psalter
Mainz Psalter ©

The Mainz Psalter is a rather special book, which was printed over 560 years ago, in 1457, by Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer in Mainz, Germany.

It is the first book known to have been printed in red and black, and the second book ever printed with movable metal type – the system of printing using movable letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Only ten copies of it survive.

It is called a psalter because it contains psalms, the holy poems or songs found in the Bible.


These early printed books were often made to look like they were handwritten (known as a manuscript), which was considered much more impressive because it would have taken more time and skill to make. One technique used for creating a handwritten appearance was starting new sections with large, elaborate first letters. Sometimes these letters featured animals or flowers wrapped around them.

Can you make a highly decorative version of the first letter from your name? Use your favourite colours and include anything important to you, such as your favourite animal, flower or hobby.

You can also create your own bookmark – download our activity sheet for a template.

Make a bookmark

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.