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"Columbus Letter" Gift from Oxford Featured in Present Display -- Only Few Shown at Time


Handsomely printed and illuminated messages of congratulation from more than 500 institutions of learning the world over are being placed on view a few at a time in Widener Library.

The famous "Columbus letter," gift to Harvard from Oxford University, is included in the present display. This is one of two copies in existence of a letter by Christopher Columbus concerning the "newly discovered islands," which was printed in book form in 1493.

This exhibit will run in series throughout the winter. Twenty of them are in the cases at present, and will remain there for a month.

Letter from Southwark

Most spectacular of these is from the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark, London, birthplace of John Harvard. Brilliantly illuminated and hand printed in striking colors, this letter is signed by the Mayor and Town Clerk of Southwark, who were present at the Harvard exercises.

Greetings in Latin are shown from the Papal Academy of Sciences, the Royal Hungarian Peter Paznany University, and the universities of Leiden, Dublin, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Upsala, Naples, Glasgow; and Carolina. For some the exhibit emphasizes the magnificent cases in which the messages were sent, many of them the finest examples of modern leatherworker's art, in red, deep brown, and blue, with gold seals embossed.

Especially notable are the diplomas from Emmanuel College and Cambridge University, where John Harvard studied. Both are handsomely printed, and have large embossed seals pendant from colored ribbons.

Most mediseval is the letter of the University of Bologna engrossed on heavy sheepskin, with the printing surrounded by brilliant hand drawn illuminution predominantly blue and red, with gold interlining.

Today is the last chance to see the insignia of the University, including the college charter keys, seal, and first book of records. These are shown only at ceremonial occasions, and will be returned to the archives tonight, not to reappear until Commencement next June.

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