Evans Collection 16th-Century Books on Exhibit in Dental Library


Woodcut of tooth extraction from title page of Artzney Buchlein (Leipzig,1530)

Philadelphia — Artifacts from the collection of Dr. Thomas Evans, now a visible part of the fabric of Penn Dental Medicine, continue to illuminate the life and times of Dr. Evans, Penn Dental Medicine’s earliest benefactor.

A rotating exhibit within the main reading room of the School’s library features books, letters, photographs, and other memorabilia from the Evans Collection that are now part of Penn’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, which curates the exhibits. The latest exhibit — a selection of 16th-century books — opened earlier this month and runs through July 27, 2018. This is the fifth exhibit since the renovated library opened in the fall of 2016.

One highlight of the exhibit is Artzney Buchlein, better known under the name of Zene Artzney (remedies for the teeth), first published in 1530 by Michael Blum at Leipzig. The first edition of the Zene Artzney was the first book of world literature, which in the form of a consistent and comprehensive monograph, covers the dentistry of 400 years ago. In addition, the book has particular importance for dental iconography with its title page bearing the first known woodcut showing a tooth extraction.

This exhibit features a diverse selection of 16th-century books that reflect the diverse interests of Evans himself. In the exhibit panel, Dan Traister, retired Curator of Research Services at Penn’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, who curated the exhibit, wrote: “They reflect a person with more curiosity and broader interests than many people possess. His legacy gives Penn and its community a gift with many uses—one of which is their sheer enjoyability.”