The Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Hofbibliothek Donaueschingen
The court library of the house Fürstenberg in Donaueschingen was accrued over centuries with important collections in the fields of jurisprudence, theology, geology, regional and dynastical history, and some 7000 rare music manuscripts (including some from Mozart’s hand). The library comprised around 500 incunabula and 1300 mediaeval manuscripts. The single largest stock of books, some 11000 volumes, came to Donaueschingen from the library of the scholar Joseph Maria Christoph Freiherr von Laßberg (1770-1855) in 1855. Since the 1980s, the House Fürstenberg began selling off books from their manuscript and illustrated incunabula collections. In 1993, Baden-Württemberg bought the entire remaining manuscript collection with the exception of Laßberg’s copy of the Nibelungenlied, which was purchased in 2001 by the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe. The valuable incunabula collection, however, was put up for sale in July 1994 and strewn throughout the world. Since October 1999, the remaining printed books of the Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Hofbibliothek in Donaueschingen, around 130000 volumes, have been auctioned or otherwise sold off on the antiquary market.
Being a research library, the MGH library has no mandate to acquire books for antiquarian purposes. The Donaueschingen volumes now in our possession came to us through second hand. For the purposes of replacing worn-out books, such as the much used editions of the papal registers, some well preserved copies from the Hofbibliothek were bought. They are recognisable by their typical green leather binding. In 2006, also a volume from Laßberg provenance was acquired.