The General Collection of the Smith Rare Book Room contains a wide array of unique and interesting books. Of particular note is a parchment-bound edition of Seneca printed in 1492. This book is one of the library’s three incunabula, or books printed prior to 1501. The second is the Life of St. Thomas a Becket, a small book in heavy Gothic type printed in Paris in 1495, and one of only six known copies in the world. The third is a 1492 Ventian printing of Saturnalia.
Also located in the General Collection of the Smith Rare Book Room are several books with fore-edge paintings and a large number of autographed books. A three volume edition of Cicero’s Orations printed in Venice at the Aldine Press in 1546, is also found here. Each volume of the Orations is entirely in italics and is very small. The work is typical of the printer Aldus Manutius, the first person to use italic type and to popularize the small book.
Thanks to the generosity of Colonel C.W. Carlton, the General Collection contains one of the last works of English Protestant Reformer George Joye. The Exposition of Daniel the Prophet was published in 1545, a year before a proclamation was issued ordering the public burning of all Joye’s books. A 1668 first edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost is also located in the General Collection of the Smith Rare Book Room.