THE RARE BOOK AND
MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Treasures


16 Aelius Donatus
Ars minor
[Mainz? Johann Gutenberg, ca. 1450]
Before so momentous an accomplishment as the Gutenberg Bible could be achieved, there were necessarily experimental publications which developed the technique of printing with moveable type. This unprepossessing but significant single leaf, printed on vellum, is a relic of those trials. The text is part of a Latin grammar written by Donatus, who lived in the middle of the fourth century and was the teacher of St. Jerome. His grammar was one of the most popular teaching aids during the medieval period, and Gutenberg seems to have found it advantageous to publish many editions of it, not only as practice but also as a source of much needed revenue. There are twenty-four known editions of the text in Gutenberg's earliest type, all preceding the famous Bible. Described previously as a "Pfister imprint," dated ca. 1460, recent investigations indicate, however, that it belongs among the earlier varieties, probably dating not later than 1452.
Gift of George A. Plimpton

Collections and Treasures