Miniature Book Collection
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Miniature books are defined as those books under 4” (3” in some places) in height. Books in small sizes have been produced since antiquity, and continue to be produced to this day. They are all “real” books, with pages, printing, illustrations, etc. - just very small.
The Miniature Book Collection at UNT began with a group of miniature children’s books donated in the 1930’s by Mrs. Gustine Courson Weaver as part of her children’s book collection. When the Rare Book Room opened in 1981, these tiny tomes from Mrs. Weaver’s collection were displayed with other miniatures that had been acquired over the years. By 2001, the Miniature Book Collection had grown to include over 600 volumes. As more and more attention was focused on the collection, more books were donated and select purchases helped to fill gaps in the collection. In July 2004, the 1,000th miniature was acquired. The collection now includes almost 3,000 items, and is one of the most popular collections with visitors.
The oldest recorded information items in the UNT Libraries are two tiny 4,000 year old clay tablets, which are kept with the miniature book collection. The next oldest miniature is a single original leaf from an early 15th century Parisian(?) illuminated Book of Hours. The collection also contains several facsimiles of 15th century illuminated miniature manuscripts.
The oldest printed miniature book in the collection is a copy of the works of Cicero, and was published in 1521. The next oldest volumes are from the 1600’s, and include religious works and works of classical authors.
Representative works from the 1700’s and 1800’s include almanacs, children’s books, literature, religion, classical works, reference works, and a group of “Diamond Classics” printed by William Pickering.
Fine Press Miniatures
Many important presses and their works are represented in the collection, including:
- Achille St. Onge
- REM Miniatures
- Kitemaug Press
- The Final Score
- D. Bryce and Sons
- Alembic Press
- Press of Ward Schori
Book as art object is as much a feature of the miniature book world as it is of the “regular” book world. The collection contains a significant group of miniature artists’ books, all exploring the idea of book as art, and pushing the limits of the definition of a “book”. Works by many major book artists are held, including:
- Jan and Jarmilla Sobota
- Jody Williams
- Peter & Donna Thomas
- Iron Bear Press
- Margaret Challenger
- Ed Hutchins
As a result of the generosity of many donors, the Miniature Book Collection contains over 300 modern mass-market miniature books, including a major collection of items produced by Running Press and Andrews McMeel. These volumes include miniature “For Dummies” books, pop-ups, and literary works.
The miniature book format has been used extensively for religious books of all faiths, and the collection has examples dating back to the 1600’s. Works include Books of hours, Psalms, Bibles, Korans, Hebrew texts, the Book of Common Prayer, devotional works and a copy of the Zoroastrian Zend Avesta are all in the collection. Also included are a number of children’s “Thumb Bibles”, and tracts published by the American Sunday School Union.
The collection contains a variety of miniatures issued to promote political ideals or parties throughout the world. Nazi German miniatures, various communist publications, and a copy of Mao’s “Little Red Book” all show the place propaganda had in the history of miniature books.
Smallest Books in the World
Several items in the collection were, at some point, “The Smallest Book In The World.” These technical tour-de-force pieces are amazing examples of the skills of printers and binders.
Weaver Collection Miniatures
Miniature religious works that were part of the original Weaver Juvenile Materials donation were the beginnings of our Miniature Book Collection, and are shelved with the rest of the Miniature Book Collection. Mrs. Weaver’s miniatures were all religious texts intended for children, and include a number of important American Sunday-School Union publications.
Miniatures produced by important Texas publishers, works by Texans, and miniature books about Texas form a miniature collection within the Miniature Book Collection. Presses represented include:
- Stanley Marcus’ Somesuch Press
- Gordon Rouze’s Arm & Hammer Press
- Various presses of the Kent family:
- Erespin Press (Carol Kent)
- Tarantula Press (Susannah Kent)
- Robot Press (Robert Kent)
- Press of the Grim Reaper (Zachary Kent)
- Kent Press (Clark Kent)
- Yolanda Carter’s Amistad Press
- Works by Valentine Poska
- Tony Firman’s Plum Park Press
Research and Reference Materials
Supporting the Miniature Book Collection are holdings of bibliographies, periodicals, catalogs, prospectuses, correspondence files, clippings and other materials that are available to aid researchers.
Miniature Book Society
Catalogs of the annual competition of the Miniature Book Society, the newsletters of the society, and keepsakes from a number of the MBS annual Conclaves are a part of our collections. In addition, the Rare Book & Texana Collections has been designated the conservators for the Miniature Book Society Traveling Exhibition, after having helped conserve and refurbish the exhibition after its Hurricane Katrina experiences. The Rare Book & Texana Collections is a proud member of the Miniature Book Society, and is happy to support the work of the MBS.
Various historic miniatures, modern works, and periodicals have been digitized as part of ongoing projects and agreements. Where possible, entire works have been digitized, while in some cases only covers have been done. Digitized items are available online through the UNT Libraries’ Digital Library. Some of these resources are:
- The Miniature Book Society Newsletter
- The Miniature Book News
- Volumes from the Miniature Books Collection of the UNT Libraries’
The majority of the items within the Miniature Book Collection can be searched in the UNT Libraries’ online catalog, by author, publisher, title, or subject. Some items are uncatalogued, primarily non-English items. For more information, please contact the staff of the Rare Book Room.
The Miniature Books Collection at UNT has always relied on the generosity of donors to continue to grow and expand. From the very first volumes donated in the 1930’s, to recent purchases made with donated funds, this collection is the creation of a wide group of people who have been generous enough to help support it. We actively seek donations of miniature books, as well as ephemera and research materials related to miniature books. Additionally, we gratefully accept gifts of funds to help support acquisitions of miniature books. From single items to large collections, we are always interested. For more information, or to discuss donating, please contact the staff of the Rare Book Room, UNT Libraries.