Sunday, April 4, 2010

Whatever Happened to Miniature Books?

I'm a miniature book collector. I've been collecting teeny tiny books for about fifteen years or more. So far I have almost 400 volumes. That sounds like a lot until you realize 400 miniatures take up a space about two feet by two feet in little bitty bookshelves. In fact, my entire collection fits behind a door on the landing of the stairs outside my office. And truthfully, mine are not all true miniatures.

According to the Miniature Book Society of America (MBSA)--a group of which I've been a member (and I have the sweatshirt to prove it)--a proper miniature book must not be more than 2.5 inches tall by 2.5 inches wide. (Check that on your ruler to see just how small that is.) So most of the so-called "miniatures" we see published by Running Press and other companies are not truly considered miniatures by those who are officially "small minded."

Once I traveled to Chicago to the MBSA convention. Now that was an interesting book convention! It was about sixty little blue-haired ladies and gentlemen and me (I was about fifty years old at the time--a mere youngster, comparatively speaking). The displays were all enclosed in locked glass cases, I guess because, if you were a thief at heart, you could put someone's entire library in your jacket pocket. Also, many of these handmade miniatures are extremely valuable, especially those made by the famous makers of miniatures. I saw some itsy bitsy volumes for $3,000-5,000 and more!

One older lady had been collecting true miniatures for more than forty years, and she had a huge collection of 8,000+ volumes! She had just donated her entire collection to the University of Chicago library, which had built a special temperature-controlled room for them. They were so valuable that she declined to comment about their worth. When asked, she just smiled knowingly and shook her head.

At the MBSA convention, I saw the smallest book ever published--a copy of the Bible. It was about 1/2 inch wide by 1/2 inch high and about 1/2 inch thick. It was so tiny you could hardly hold it, much less turn its teensy pages. It was boxed with a huge, strong magnifying glass, and you could actually read it. An astounding feat! And completely fascinating to see.

I've actually been privileged to have four different quasi miniatures published: My Littlest Bible; The Kings Alphabet; Together Forever; and On Raising Children. And I thoroughly enjoyed working on them.

But where have the true miniatures gone? I used to find them regularly in antique stores, but now it's rare to locate real ones anywhere. Still, I'm always on the lookout for them. (Let me know if you find any!)

Is anybody else out there a fan of miniature books? I'd love to connect with you, if you are. We miniature collectors are a small club of specialists (no pun intended . . . well, maybe just a little one).

BTW, have you seen The Word of Promise audio New Testament yet? It's amazing! See my review below.

Blessings, friends!


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