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Small Masterpieces: A Little Exhibition of Miniature Books

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by Katie Kraase on 6 May 2013

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Transcript of Small Masterpieces: A Little Exhibition of Miniature Books

People have an unexplainable draw toward small things. The smaller something is, the cuter people find it to be. Books are no exception to this. Even before printing, monks would illuminate intricate miniature books with pictures of Jesus and the saints. Later, printers would create minute masterpieces, partially to test their fine crafting skills, but also to attract people to buy their goods. More recently, the form has blossomed into art. Traditionally, a miniature book is any book smaller than 3", that is to say, smaller than the top of a soda can.

Because of their often limited printing, skilled artistry, and diminutive size, miniature books have called to collectors for many years. President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself was an avid collector of these small treasures, buying them even on his honeymoon. Queen Mary of England stocked her famous Dolls' House at Windsor Castle with a complete library of elegantly bound miniature books. The Emancipation Proclamation was first printed in miniature book form.

Surprisingly, except for microminiatures, which are books smaller than 1", most do not need a magnifying glass to be read. They are printed in the same size font found in most newspapers. Over the years, much like traditionally printed books, miniature books have been created for many reasons and on almost every topic imaginable. There have been books on science, politics, religion, travel, language, classic novels, children's books, et cetera- all printed in miniature form.

Popular miniature themes have been: thumb Bibles; children's tales to encourage reading; travel souvenirs, describing popular destinations that a visitor saw; inaugural addresses from United States presidents; humorous printing; and books utilizing the form to emphasis a point. As you visit the exhibition, you will see examples of each of these.

Unless otherwise noted, all images were taken in the Rare Book division of the New York Public Library. The Bible Small Masterpieces This abbreviated version of the Bible, written in verse, represents one of the earliest forms of miniature books. It is often referred to as a Thumb Bible, given its small size. It was read to children to help them understand the scripture. They also were useful for travelers, who could easily carry it with them on their journeys.


Taylor, John. The Bible. Philadelphia, Sower & Jones, by J. Johnson & Co., 1794?. 8th Edition. 286 p. incl. front. illus. 4.25cm x 5.50 cm. What it's worth - and that's not much. Miniature books have also become popular as art and statement books. What It's Worth was bound using an actual dollar bill for its binding, fitting for an essay about the American dollar and its value. Two hundred copies were made, all with genuine dollar bills.

Schuster, Steve. What it's worth - and that's not much. Irving, Texas: Quoin Press, 1978. [13] p., No. 84 of 200 copies printed. 6.7 x 7.9 cm This text is an example of the miniature books created from inaugural addresses. These books quickly became collector's items among political aficionados. Only fifteen hundred copies were printed.

Nixon, Richard M. The inaugural address of Richard Milhous Nixon, President of the United States, delivered at the Capitol, Washington, January 20, 1969. Worcester, Mass. A. J. St. Onge, 1969. 45 p. port. 6.7 x 8 cm. Quads Within Quads:
Quads for Authors, Editors, & Devils The inaugural address of Richard Milhous Nixon, President of the United States, delivered at the Capitol, Washington, January 20, 1969. Printers also used miniature books to express their humor. In printing, a quad is a blank piece of type used for spaces. This book, Quads within Quads, is not only a miniature in and of itself, but also has a microminiature version of itself tucked within a cut out compartment in the back pages of the book. So while the book itself is full of printers' jokes, the book itself is one as well.

Andrew W. Tuer. Quads within quads: Quads for Authors, Editors, and Devils. London: Field and Tuer, 1884. 94 p. incl. front., illus. 15 cm. and 146, [13] p. incl. front., illus. Two volumes in one, the miniature: 3.8 x 2.5 cm. The rose garden of Omar Khayyam Further Reading 4000 Years of Miniature Books IU Lilly Library
Exhibition. (n.d.). Indiana University. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from http://www.indiana.edu/ ~liblilly/miniatures/index.shtml
AbeBooks: Small Talk about Miniature Books. (n.d.).
AbeBooks Official Site - New & Used Books, Textbooks, & Rare Books. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from http://www.abebooks.com/books/ miniature-miniaturization-tiny-prayer-bindings/small-books.shtml
About | De walden press. (n.d.). Home | De Walden
Press. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from http://www.dewaldenpress.com/about.html
Bromer, A., & Edison, J. I. (2007). Miniature books:
4,000 years of tiny treasures. New York: Abrams in association with Grolier Club.
Chilton, M. (n.d.). Is this the world's smallest book? -
Telegraph. Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ culture/books/booknews/9927200/Is-this-the-
worlds-smallest-book.html
Edison, J. I. (1970). Miniature books. St. Louis: J.I.
Edison.
Miniature Book Society. (n.d.). Miniature Book Society. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from http://www.mbs.org/
Miniature Books. (n.d.). Peter and Donna Thomas: Santa Cruz. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from www2.cruzio.com/~peteranddonna/5-minibooks.htm
Special Collections & University Archives - The Charlotte M. Smith Collection of Miniature Books - The University of Iowa Libraries. (n.d.). The University of Iowa Libraries. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/speccoll/ bookcolls/Smith%20Miniature%20Collection/smithindex.htm
Vadukul, A. (n.d.). Library of Miniature Books Has Its Own Story - NYTimes.com. Metro - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com. Retrieved April 29, 2013, from http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/redefining-a-little-library/ A Little Exhibition of Miniature Books Image(top) from http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/4700208 Rosamond.
Dolly's new picture book. Created specifically for children, this book was published in hopes of encouraging reading. The brightly colored pictures and small size made it the perfect story for girls to read to their dolls or boys to their soldiers. These books were especially popular in Victorian England.

Geissler, Rudolph. Rosamond. Dolly's new picture book. With 12 coloured illustrations. Translated from the German by Madame de Chatelain. 3d ed. Stuttgart, Thienemann's Verlag; London, A. N. Myers, 1870. [24] p. col. plates. 5.4 x 8.4 cm. As miniature books continued to be made, printers decided that they wanted to challenge their skills and print the smallest book possible for the time. These became known as microminiatures. This book was, in 1932, the world's smallest printed book at only 4x6 mm long. It came with a magnifying glass as well as a facsimile, allowing people to be able to read the text. It took seven years to make, and only two hundred fifty copies were produced.

Omar Khayyam. The rose garden of Omar Khayyam. Founded on the Persian by Eben Francis Thompson. Worcester, Mass., Priv. print., 1932. [27] p. 0.6 x 0.8 cm. Image (Top) from: http://www.christies.com/Lotfinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=4747968
Image (Bottom) from: http://www.mockduck.net/page/35/ Scenes in Europe Miniature books were also popular with tourists as a souvenir. Their small size made it convenient to tuck into their luggage, and recipients loved the quirkiness of them.

Scenes in Europe. Philadelphia, H.C. Peck & T. Bliss, 185?. xi, 12-191 p. incl. front., plates. 8 x 7 cm.
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