In celebration of Horace's two thousandth birthday anniversary, 25 rare volumes of the poet's works are now on view in the Treasure Room of the Widener Library.
Included in this exhibition are six of the most valuable books in the Library. All of these are well known editions of Horace, printed before 1500, and represent some of the earliest products of European printing.
The oldest book on display was printed in 1482, edited by a Florentine named Christopher Landinus. Four years later, Landinus annotated another edition of Horace, also on view. This book was printed by Bernardino di Tridino, a native of Montferrato, Italy, and was illuminated with hand-colored red and blue initial letters.
Other incunabula, or editions printed before 1500, in the exhibit are "Works," printed in Venice in 1490 and edited by Philomusus, another Venetian edition dated 1498, one edited by John Reinhard in Strassburg of the same vintage, and Ascensius version of the "Ars Poetica," printed in paris in 1500. Also on display are two illuminated copies of the "Works," printed by Aldus of Venice in 1501.
The art of the early English printers is represented by two volumes, one printed in 1699 by Jacob Tonson of Cambridge, the other put out by John Baskerville of Birmingham one year later.
In contrast with these early examples of printing are three modern limited editions. One volume, that of the Bibliophile society of Boston, contains many hand-drawn illustrations. Also illustrated is the edition printed by Peter Davies of London, while the third modern product is that of the Medici society of London.