Author Archives: Todd Sommerfeld

Miniature Association Books- Part II

In the first part of this article I reviewed five different categories of associations that I’ve identified. Today we’ll look at five more.

6. Books With Accompanying Notes

This is my absolute favorite category because this is where we get the most intimate look at the relationship. The accompanying must however, shed some light on the book to be considered here.
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At 4 3/4 x 3 3/8 inches, this one doesn’t even qualify as an honorary miniature book but I’ve included it here because both the publisher and collector are important in miniature books,and I like it.

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Not only is there a letter but the book is also inscribed with a cute note. This book with it’s corresponding letter is also the inspiration for “Book People”, available on the store page here.

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Beau-Beau’s 123 was published by Kurbel Books with illustrations by E. Helene Sherman and layout by Robert Massmann. It came from the collection of Paige Thornton and and was personalized for her by REM.

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This one’s fun in that not only is the book miniature but the note is as well, and the book has a second, personalized slipcover.

7. Autograph Books

Again, this is similar to type one books in that it’s a loose association, putting the book in the signer’s hands for but a brief moment. These can be fun though, and if you like to name drop, very handy.
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Here are three examples from Booksby.

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This is a keepsake from an early MBS conclave and belonged to long time collector/dealer, Paige Thornton. It has many of the biggest names in miniature books of the second half of the 20th century. I would have loved to be at this one.

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This is my own book pin that I used to wear everywhere. It went with me to Conclave XXXII in Boston last year and I wish I could say it was my idea to have it signed but no, it was someone else’s suggestion. It has the signatures of many good friends who are also important in the miniature book world.

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I know very little about this one but I like it because it’s so tiny. It’s 7/8 x 5/8 and has many signatures, all from the mid 70’s. It came from the Thornton collection also.

8. Holographic Author’s Drafts

I don’t know how common this is for miniature books (all my books started out in an 8 1/2 x 11 spiral notebook), but I do have one.

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Here’s the author’s draft of “Scrimshaw”, written by Carolyn Grabhorn Orr, with the finished book. The draft was purchased from Mrs. Orr’s estate and the published book directly from Miriam.

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The book was published in 1986 but notice the earlier date and different title in the draft, all in Carolyn’s own hand.

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9. Printer’s Proofs / Dummy Books

Not so much an association as a curiosity, these were trial pieces to make sure everything was right and were never meant to see the light of day. One famous dummy book is St. Onge’s “The Jewish Religious Calendar”, a copy can be seen at the Huntington library.

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This one is “Christmas Carols”, published by Kitemaug Press in 1982. It will need to be compared to a numbered copy to determine if there were changes between this impression and and the final product.

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Where the limitation should be it has instead the word proof written.

10. One of a Kind Book

This is the last type of association book we’ll take a look at. This can be just about anything from a unique binding to an artist’s sketchbook.

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This one is very cool because it fits into several different categories but the outstanding feature is its one-of-a-kind binding done by Massmann.

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It has Bob’s bookplate, designed by Helene Sherman.

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It has been signed by the publisher. Elsewhere it has been signed by the binder. It also has a note from REM to REM explaining the binding, and finally it has the wonderful, purple binding.

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These are two sketch books done by Carolyn Orr in the early 1980’s.

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Even the title pages are beautiful.

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The first is completely full of pen & ink drawings. The second however has many amazing watercolors. Unfortunately, they are perfect bound doll house books and the glue is letting go.

So these are the ten categories of association books I’ve identified at Booksby. I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at an exciting sub-genera of miniature books, and thank you for reading.

Please, I covet your comments and criticisms so leave some feedback!

Miniature Triangle Books

I didn’t set out to collect triangles. They just come to me. As a result, I think that in the future, I’ll pursue with some purpose. With the arrival of my newest addition, the absolutely stunning ” Agathon’s Book of Dreams” came the idea to write about them, so herein I will describe four that are now in the library at Booksby, in chronological order.

Sukie’s Tiny Tepee
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My earliest trianglebook is “Sukie’s Tiny Tepee, A Sketch Book”. Published by REM Miniatures in 1970, it contains 20+ pages of Helene Sherman’s delightful illustrations of her miniature poodle, Sukie, all hand colored by REM and his wife, Eloise.It has a conventional book structure with pages attached at a spine. Overall it is a 2 3/4″ equilateral triangle and was produced in 250 unnumbered copies.

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About Art
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The next representative is “About Art” published by Iron Bear Press in 2000.

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The entire book is a series of illustrated adverbs as they relate to the word art, such as within art and beyond art.

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The structure is quite different however, and functions like a three sided accordion. If you were try to view it by turning the pages, you would have to go through it three times to see the entire book. Again this one is a 2 3/4″ equilateral triangle with an overlaid, removable ribbon. Ink jet printedand hand bound by K. J. Miller, it is signed and numbered #38 of 100.

The Seventh Year of Bo Press
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Here we have “The Seventh Year of Bo Press” by Pat Sweet, 2013. Leave it to Pat to be different. As it was her seventh year as a publisher this book is all in sevens. It is an isosceles triangle, one seventh of a heptagon, and it is an edition of seven, mine being copy red, one of the seven colors of the rainbow. Again, this is a conventional , all attached at the spine.

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The contents are all the books and miniatures made at Bo Press in 2013. Includes a tiny bookmark.

Agathon’s Book of Dreams
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Finally we come to the newest triangle book, “Agathon’s Book of Dreams” by Emil Goozairow, published in 2014. With velvet blue covers and a sterling relief outside and a lavishly illustrated dream sequence inside, this book is a supremely satisfying work of art. At 55 mm, this equilateral triangle is a little smaller then the standard edition

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“Incomprehensible Animal”
The art work within is enchanting with fanciful creations and vibrant colors.

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“Cats and Ship”

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This one also has that unusual concertina construction.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my new area of specialization. If you find any cool miniature triangle books, dropme a line, I’d love to have a look.

The Miniature Purple Cow- Susan & Karen Dawson

After “The Little Cookie Book” my favorite miniature book is “The Miniature Purple Cow” by Gelett Burgess. It’s miniature. It’s purple. It’s cow. Even though it’s four years older than me, I just know it was made for me.

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My copy is a first edition Published in 1966 by Susan Dawson and Karen Dawson, daughters of that most famous purveyor of miniature books, Glen Dawson. The binding is by Bela Blau.

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Printed by Grant Dahlstrom, the charming illustrations are Burgess’ own work.

The second edition of 1968 is the same except for the binding, which is brown.

Miniature Association Books- Part I

As I’ve said before, one of the aspects of collecting miniature books I like best is the relationships that are formed between producers, sellers and collectors. Which is closely related to today’s topic, association copies. The narrowest definition, and the one most often encountered in booksellers’ catalogs is this: A copy of a book which has been inscribed by the author for a personal friend, colleague, or person of historical significance. I favor a more broad definition though. In his introduction to “Other Peoples Books Association Copies and the Stories They Tell”, Thomas Tanselle writes: “It is important to allow extreme breadth to take in every kind of documented assocation”. Let us then forage out on our own and explore the different types of associations found at Booksby.

1. Signed By The Author

The most commonly encountered type of association is a book signed by the author. Often times the books are hand signed factory style at book signings or before being released by the publisher. It’s not a close association but it does place the physical book into the hands of the author at one point.

This is "On Human Rights" by Carlos Fuentes and published by Somesuch Press in 1984. I believe Fuentes signed each of the 395 copies of this book before the s
This is “On Human Rights” by Carlos Fuentes and published by Somesuch Press in 1984. I believe Fuentes signed each of the 395 copies of this book before the sheets were folded and bound, In fact, his signature runs under the fold and reappears on the adjoining page of text. This is copy #267

2. Signed By The Publisher/Printer/Binder

Closely related to the first category is this, signed by someone, other than the author, related to the production of the book. In the world of private presses and fine bindings, this is a fairly common practice.

The Lullaby Book
Here we have “The Lullaby Book” by Eugene Field and published by the Schori Press in 1963. It is signed and numbered by the publisher/printer. This is copy #101 of 600.

Mardi Gras Customs & Costumes
Next up is “Mardi Gras Customs & Costumes by Susanne Smith Pruchnicki and published by her Bronte Press in 1992. Susanne did all the work on this book except the hand coloring, which was done by her husband. She signed and numbered this as copy #43 of 60.

3. Signed And Inscribed By The Author

This is the traditional sense of the term and one of my favorites.

Thy Joys of Collecting Children's Books
“The Joys of Collecting Children’s Books” was written by Alla T. Ford and published by her Ford Press in 1968. This one is inscribed with a flower doodle to Frances Dunn by the author. Frances was an important, early collector of miniature books and was mentioned in the last issue of “The Miniature Book Collector” in 1962 as having one of the seven largest collections in the U. S.

Ere E Eme
“Ere E Eme” is #47 of 59 copies for Robert E. Massmann’s 59th birthday in 1983. Except the printing, this book is REM, start to finish. He signed it and inscribed it to Hilda- being Hilda Neiman, an early member of the Miniature Book Society.

REM Acrostics
REM Acrostics is one of the harder to find REM Miniatures, being an edition of only 25. Again, Bob did all the work save the printing on this one, in 1972.I love that a couple if books ago we had a book from Alla Ford and now here’s to Alla Ford, signed and inscribed by Bob Massmann. This is #25.

4. Inscribed By The Publisher/Printer/Binder

Again similar to the last category. This one is fun as well.

The Strawberry Story
“The Strawberry Story” is an old Cherokee Tale printed by Frank Anderson at his Kitemaug Press in 1972. Frank signed and inscribed it to the Storms. Colton Storm ran the Storm Bindery in Sedona, Arizona. I believe the slipcase is Colton’s but I’m not sure about the binding. Of 125 copies, this is #12.

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“Elusive Bon Mots” is a non-traditional book format by REM Miniatures, done in 1969. #14 of 250 copies, this one is signed and inscribed by Bob for Alla Ford and includes a quirky note on the slipcover that I just love.

5. Book With Collector’s Bookplate.

Bookplates don’t shed much light on the production of the books but tell us where they were in the past. I have some books that came to mt through some pretty important private collections.

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Here is a small group of bookplates at Booksby.
1. & 2. Wilbur Macy Stone and James D. Henderson were the two most prominent collectors of miniature books from the turn of the century to the 1920’s. I wish I had books from their libraries. These bookplates are tipped-in examples in a book about collectors.
3. Arthur A. Houghton. The auction of his collection in 1979 was perhaps the largest sale of miniature books ever.
4. Stanley Marcus was chairman of Neiman-Marcus and published miniature books under his Somesuch Press imprint.
5. & 6. Robert E. Massmann was a charter member of the Miniature Book Society and published as REM Miniatures.
7. Kalman Levitan was co-founder and first president of the Miniature Book Society and published as Kaycee Press.
Also,the bookplate of Todd Sommerfeld (me) MBS member and publishes under the Booksby Press imprint.
8. Grace Broecker was a longtime collector of miniature books. Part of her collection went to the Huntington Library.
9. E. P. M. I have no information on this bookplate which is a shame because it is perhaps the most beautiful miniature bookplate I’ve ever seen. If you know who’s bookplate it is please let me know.

Well, that’s all for this week. Next week I’ll mention a few other types of associations that miniature books can have.

The Bite-Sized Book of Bite-Sized Recipes

You can add Kickstarter to the list of things I’ve done for miniature books.

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The Bite-Sized Book of Bite-Sized Recipes is the first miniature book I’ve bought supporting a kickstarter project. It is written and published by Catherine Murray and is quite tiny.

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The Bite-Sized book contains twenty tiny recipes for sweet and savory mini foods perfect for your next miniature book party or conclave.

I’m not sure if it is still available from the but I will find out and provide contact information if it is.

I just contacted Catherine and here is her reply:
Absolutely, I do have book copies for sale. The majority of them are still in production and will be done in a few weeks. Please direct them to this Etsy site for sales https://www.etsy.com/shop/photokitchen and to my Bite-Sized blog for more info: http://photokitchen.net/category/mini-cookbook/

Kindregarten Wisdom- Ward Schori or REM?

Sometimes you come across something that doesn’t fit neatly into your library, or could be classified under different categories. Here is one such item I’ve recently acquired and how I’ve decided to handle it.

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Kindergarten Wisdom was printed by Ward Schori in 1988 on wonderful, shimmery paper that is not identified. It is limited to 99 copies and the half-title is signed by Ward.

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The binding, however is a one-of-a-kind binding done by Robert E. Massman and has a matching slipcase. I love the overlaid picture on both the cover and slipcase that appears to be hand colored, and the purple cloth.

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Laid in the book is this short note explaining how this all came to be.

So where does this one belong? My library is organized by publisher so it would seem natural that it would end up with other Press of Ward Schori books but because I have a special interest in REM, and because it is a unique item, it ends up with mt Massmann ephemera.

Jemma Lewis Marbling Design

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Here’s my new miniature marbled paper mix from Jemma Lewis Marbling Design. It’s all on a nice 45g white paper and the marbling is quite fine, perfect for miniature books. I can’t wait to use this in my next project, hand, heal quickly.

You should check out her website at:

she has not only several patterns of miniature papers but a wide range of larger papers as well as marbling supplies and marbled gift items.

The available patterns seems to rotate so check occasionally to find just the right paper.

The Twenty Third Psalm- Achille J. St. Onge

Ok, I know, at 3 5/8″ The Twenty Third Psalm isn’t a REAL miniature, but why can’t we have honorary miniature books?
This book has enjoyed the largest press runn of ant St. Onge book. 18,657 copies in two editions, in 1965 and 1975. It has been noted in The Microbibliophile that of the first edition there were several variants. In the November 2013 issue it is noted: White binding 1 copy, 6 additional copies bound in various cloth colors.

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Here are three first printings, all with different bindings. The first one is in the standard green gilt morocco. The second in an unusual tan leather, and the third in a very rare white gilt morocco. I threw The Night Before Christmas in there because it looks good with the others and to say Merry Christmas to you all.

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Inside, every page is wonderfully illustrated with the homey and comforting artwork of Tasha Tudor, very fitting for the subject matter, I think.

What Have YOU Done For Miniature Books?

I’ve always been a collector.Of everything and anything.Along with my favorite object set of the hour,there were books, from my early teen years. Weather it was a greater mastery of the English language through fiction or the knowledge housed in a reference work, I knew that books equal power. In my late teens miniature books were thrown into the mix, which added craftsmanship and art to the list of benefits that books provide.
Books are expensive though, and I’ve never been a man of means. Which has led me to some creative ways to acquire them. In my school years, while mom was scrimping and saving just to make ends meet, I was skipping lunch to save my lunch money for books. I also found out quickly that, as a youth, that if you have a legitimate interest and show a little knowledge, and are just cute most sellers will give you a pretty good break. I exploited that cute factor for as long as I could to build my library.
I found out early on, scrap dealers will pay you for aluminium cans, so yes, I am that guy in the Wal-Mart parking lot picking up dirty beer cans.
I would walk the ten miles downtown to save the $1.70 fare so I could spend it on books. I have skipped utility payments and driven without insurance to buy an especially nice or rare book. In fact, the book bill is the only one I’m always sure to pay on time, before everything else.
More recently, I’ve discovered that there are places that will pay you to “donate” the plasma part of your blood. I’ve started a small internet business selling nice things I don’t necessarily want or need so I can buy books that I do want but don’t need. All this while working as a machinist 55 hours a week.
I’m constantly searching bookstores and antique shops, thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales, trolling ebay and vialibri, and perusing dealer’s catalogs from coast to coast, in short, I go where ever the books are. All this I do just for one more volume.

So, what do YOU do for miniature books?