AELIUS DONATUS (FL. 354 CE)
[Bamberg: Albrecht Pfister, ca. 1458-1460]
Fragment, printed on parchment
Plimpton Collection (Goff D316)
The momentous accomplishment of Gutenberg’s first printing of the Bible was preceded by a number of necessarily experimental publications which developed the technique of printing with moveable type. This fragment, printed using the type of the 36-line Bible, was considered to be a relic of those trials, and as such was one of Mr. Plimpton’s greatest treasures.
The text is part of a Latin grammar written by Donatus, who 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 printed in Gutenberg’s type.
Described by some scholars as a Pfister imprint, and as a Gutenberg imprint by others, Paul Needham, Scheide Library, Princeton University, has confirmed that it was indeed printed by Albrecht Pfister, who had acquired some of Gutenberg’s type.
Gift of George Arthur Plimpton