Tag Archives: miniature books

Miniature Books With Sterling Silver Covers

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After sharing pictures of a few miniature books with sterling silver covers on Facebook I was asked about what is inside such beautiful books. While I’m no expert, having just recently acquired the four at Booksby, I’ll do my best to lay some groundwork that you, kind reader, can use for further research.

The books are all bound in red or black morocco leather with elaborate gilt stamped spines with the silver relief clipped over the front cover or riveted to it. The relief is of .925 sterling and is hallmarked, as is all English silver, with the grade (standing lion for .925), year stamp, city of manufacture, and the silversmith’s mark. The text is printed on the finest, thin India paper and range from several hundred to over a thousand pages. All measure about 2 1/4 x 1 7/8 inches. Most if not all the titles were also bound in suede, cloth, vellum, and leather without the silver. The three primary publishers are: Oxford University Press, Eyre & Spottiswoode, and William Clowes & Sons. Most of these books seem to come from the first decade of the 20th century.

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There are several titles you will find with this treatment. The most commonly encountered is The Book of Common prayer. Along with this you may find: Hymns Ancient & Modern, The Poetical Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Poetical Works of Longfellow, The Royal Bijou Birthday Book, and the Handbook of Practical Cookery, as well as miniature notebooks and address books. The Book of Common Prayer comes most often with a relief of “Five Angels” after a painting by Joshua Reynolds, but there are almost two dozen other covers for this title alone. Longfellow and Tennyson both sport fine portraits of the respective poets, Cookery has a cauldron suspended over a fire and the Birthday Book has a wonderful beer garden scene, among others.

In the literature of miniature books, Bondy makes mention of them on pages 120-121, 139, and 167-168. Bromer/Edison doesn’t say a lot about them but has two spectacular photos of almost three dozen different covers on pages 58 and 80-81.

You can find these in dealer’s catalogs or at auction for just under one hundred dollars to several hundred dollars, depending on condition and rarity. I’ll put more photos inside & out and descriptions of the four I have in the gallery in the next few days.

Decalogus- Jan & Jarmila Sabota

An unusual shape book, Decalogus is the ten commandments in ten languages. It is the first miniature book the Sabota’s made upon their return to the Czech Republic in 1999. They had previously worked in Ohio and Texas during communist rule in Eastern Europe, but were able to return home after the fall of the Soviet Union. We lost Jan in 2012 but Jarmila is still making beautiful books, both miniature and large.

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The book is in a cruciform shape and has a hand tooled leather binding with gold stamping. It comes in the lovely gold bag as well.
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The text is printed in gold on handmade paper in a numbered edition of 100, of which this is 59. I won this one at the MBS annual silent auction in Boston last year and Jarmila tells me it’s the last copy she had.

Miniature Books- Louis Bondy

I’ve wanted to do a series on essential and nonessential reference works on miniature books so here’s the first installment.

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This is the first edition of “Miniature Books, Their History From the Beginnings to the Present Day” by Louis Bondy, published by the Shepard Press in London in 1981. This is the most important reference on miniature books for the beginning collector. It gives the complete history of miniature books from the 16th century to the late 20th century, although the information is heavily in favor of Books from England.

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I have a later edition of this book republished by Richard Joseph Publishers of Oxford in 1994, after the death of Bondy, but this copy is special in that it was the personal copy of Hilda Neiman, and contains her notes about books she’d purchased, many from her friend, Ruth Adomeit.

The Dillon’s 1969 Reprint of Schloss’s London Bijou Almanac for 1843

Here’s a nice little thing done up in 1969. It is a 50% photographic enlargement of the Schloss’s London Bijou Almanac for 1843.
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The set, available in 1969 for $13.50 includes a folder with a short history of the almanacs, one set of uncut sheets, to bind your own, and the replica almanac itself. It measures 1 1/2 x 15/16 inches and is bound in brown glove leather. It was released in an edition of 65. This is number 59.

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The original almanac was entirely engraved, an amazing feat considering the size. I wish I had one.
You can read more about this one in The Miniature Book News, Number 17, September 1969.

The Kurt Adler Miniature Music Box Book

It’s not a valuable book but I’ve wanted one since it appeared in Anne Bromer and Julian Edison’s book “Miniature Books, 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures.

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Kurt S. Adler produced at least two miniature music box books, this one, “The Nutcracker Suite” in 1977 and the one pictured in Bromer/Edison, “Christmas Carols” in 1985.

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At 2 5/8 x 2 5/8 it is definitely a miniature book and the smallest musical movement I’ve seen. It has eleven pages, a red ribbon bookmark, and like all Kurt Adler books, a string loop to use as an ornament.

Tribute to the Arts- Joint REM/Mosaic Book

Tribute to the Arts was the joint keepsake of Bob Massmann and Miriam Irwin for the Miniature Book Society conclave II in Boston in 1984. It is known as a peepshow book and is Bob’s second, Moby Dick Meets the Pequod being the first in 1968.

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Here is the book with its slipcover.

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Look through the peephole and extend the book according to the directions and you’ll be treated to a 3D scene at the symphony.

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The structure that gives us this wonderful effect looks like this.

Interestingly, Bob chose not to include this one in his bibliography so it doesn’t show up in Bradbury either. REM did, however, sneak it into one of his alternate bibliographies, “Second Roster Of Lilliputia Spewed Out By Robert Massmann As Ephemera Not Previously Recorded Or Published Jointly With others” as entry #1 in 1990.

Miniature Books With Unusual Structure

Here are a couple of photos I used in a recent talk on miniature books. I used them to discuss abnormal book structures.

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The books are, clockwise from the green book on the left: 1. Pequeno Press by Pat Baldwin 2. About Art published by Iron Bear Press 3. Quote by Robert Frost, published by Jan Becker 4. Collector’s Clean Sweep by Robert E. Massmann, published by REM Miniatures 5. Bibliography of REM Miniatures Fourth Supplement, also REM 6. Eight Maya Glyphs published by Eve Press.

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Here we see them opened up. Most are variations on an accordion or concertina type structure except the REM Bibliography which is a triple dos-a-dos with a weird origami page fold, and Collector’s Clean Sweep which is a conventional book with a spine, but shaped like a broom.

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.