It is a safe assumption that people who work in a library love books of many different sizes, shapes, colors, and textures, even smells! The books of the Special Collections Department are a treat of old, rare, and unique books that run the gamut from palm sized to massive folio sized. A few weeks ago, John Lew, TU’s Marketing and Communications Multimedia Specialist, came to photograph some of our miniature books. I am excited to feature his spectacular photographs, and give you a tiny glimpse of our exceptional miniature book collection.
(Photograph courtesy of John Lew)
This is the Smallest Bible Complete in the World complete with micro illustrations was printed by The Torch Press in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which was founded in 1907. While the title suggests that it is the entire Bible, it is in fact only ‘selected pages from the New Testament.’
Look at this teeny photo and imagine trying to read the minuscule text on the next page! Wholly unpractical for daily reading, such a miniature Bible both negated the excuse of not having scriptures available at any place or time and provided the opportunity to showcase an adorable little trifle.
The green book in the background of Mr. Lew’s photograph is the Child’s Picture Bible, published by Durrie and Peck in New Haven and by Smith and Peck in Philadelphia. It is noticeably larger than the Smallest Bible, while still slight, even in young children’s hands.
Geared specifically towards children, this book features illustrations and simplified text. The unmistakable wear on this book is evidence that it was clearly used; whether it was adored or abhorred remains a question for another day.
Miniature books are not only for Bibles, though. The most likely candidates are children’s books, but kids of all ages are drawn to miniature bibliographic curios. Here are pocket sized editions of Sherlock Holmes (in red) and The History of England (green with gold trim).
Compressing the depth and breadth of English history into a conveniently portable size, The History of England opens with the invasion of Julius Caesar and ends at the present time of George II; it was printed in 1768, early in the reign of George III, before his troubles dealing with the American colonies culminated in the Revolutionary War.
Books are the gateway to worlds we may never visit otherwise. Such fantastic objects will never cease to amaze us.
If you would like to see these teeny tomes, or books and other objects of all sizes, stop by the Special Collections Department on the 5th floor of McFarlin Library any time between 8:00-4:30 Monday through Friday.