Lot 13
  • 13

Donatus, Aelius

20,000 - 30,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • vellum framed in glass
[Ars Minor]. [Mainz: DK Type (Johann Gutenberg), ca. 1456-1458]

Folio, printed on vellum, a fragmentary bifolium being part of fo. 2 and the complete fo. 11 of a 12-leaf edition (full fragment measures 277 x 227 mm, fo. 11 measures 277 x 190 mm), rubricated in red (lombard initials, paragraph marks, capital strokes, and a horizontal line through the abbreviations for "et pluraliter"); salvaged from an early binding with consequent cockling, dampstaining, and soiling.


Alwyn W. Krech — Robert Campbell James


Goff (Suppl.) D-316a; De Ricci Mayence 17; G. Zedler, Gutenbergs älteste Type (Mainz, 1934) p. 65, pl. 12; GW 8693

Catalogue Note

The only known fragment of this 30-line edition of Donatus, printed by Gutenberg in Mainz with the first European printing type. All early Mainz editions of Donatus, printed either with the DK (Donatus-and-Calendar) or Gutenberg Bible types, survive only as binding waste fragments. This is one of six DK-Type fragmentary editions (GW 8691-8697, 8695 being probably part of the same edition as 8691) printed with 30 lines to the page; other editions were printed with 26, 27, or 28 lines to the page. By the type analyses of Paul Schwenke, Gottfried Zedler, and Vera Sack, the 30-line editions represent a state of the type probably used by Gutenberg during the years roughly 1456 to 1458, before he sold the fount to Albrecht Pfister in Bamberg. The Ars minor of Donatus was a Latin grammar of very wide use in German schools, and the numerous Mainz editions were sold not just locally, but more broadly. Provenances of other 30-line Donatus fragments extend to Prague, Erfurt, and Freiburg im Breisgau.

This fragment first came to light in Ludwig Rosenthal Cat. 130 (1909), no. 64, by which it became known to Seymour De Ricci. It was purchased by the New York banker Alvin W. Krech (1858-1928). Little seems to be known about Krech as a collector, but he owned two copies of the Mainz 1460 Catholicon, one of which (second impression, ca. 1469) was broken up by Brick Row Bookshop in 1936 as a leaf book, the other of which is the fine Sunderland-Hoe first impression, now in the Newberry Library. The Donatus fragment was acquired at an unknown time by Robert Campbell James (1928-2011), a C.I.A. case officer, who reported his ownership to Frederick R. Goff in time for it to be entered in Goff's 1972 Census Supplement.