Miniature Book Collection

About

Miniature books are defined as those books under 4” (3” in some places) for any dimension. 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 along with the Gustine Courson Weaver Children’s Book Collection in the 1930s. Originally, 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. The Collection now includes almost 3,000 items, and is one of the most popular collections with visitors.

Antique Miniatures

The oldest recorded information items in the UNT Libraries are three 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 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 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.

Religious Miniatures

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. All of the miniature books donated with the Weaver Collection were religious texts intended for children, including a number of “Thumb Bibles” and tracts published by the American Sunday School Union.

Fine Press Miniatures

Many important presses and their works are represented in the Miniature Books Collection, including:

Artists’ Books

Books as art objects are as much a feature of the miniature book world as they are of the “regular” book world. The Miniature Book 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 the following notable book artists are included in the Collection.

Propaganda Miniatures

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.

Texana Miniatures

Part of our [Texana Collections](link to Texana Collections page), miniatures produced by important Texas publishers, works by Texans, and miniatures about Texas form a miniature collection within the Miniature Book Collection. The following Texana presses are represented in the Collection.

Mass-Market Miniatures

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.

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 conservator for the Miniature Book Society Traveling Exhibition, after conserving and refurbishing 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.

Research and Reference Materials

Supporting the Miniature Books Collection are holdings of bibliographies, periodicals, catalogs, prospectuses, correspondence files, clippings and other materials that are available to aid researchers.

Digitized Resources

Various historic miniatures, modern works, and periodicals have been digitized. Where possible, entire works have been digitized, while others only had the covers digitized. The following materials from the Miniature Book Collection are available on the UNT Libraries’ Digital Library.

Locating Materials

The majority of the items within the Miniature Books Collection can be searched in the UNT Libraries’ Catalog by author, publisher, title, or subject. Some items are uncatalogued, primarily non-English items. For more information, please contact us at Special Collections.