Miniature Books from the Lilliput Oval Saloon
December 10, 2016 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Tiny Tomes from the World’s First All-Miniature Bookstore: As the 450 lots show, [The Lilliput Oval Saloon] carried a range of finely crafted miniature tomes, from British almanacs with gilded covers to leather religious texts to books celebrating vices — like a tiny one from 1905 with 50 recipes for popular cocktails or 1866’s The Smoker’s Textbook, which features illustrations of water pipes and tobacco plants on an engraved title page. There are works of fiction and poetry, too, penned by names like Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, and William Butler Yeats — whose “Song of the Wandering Aengus” unfolds on tiny pages kept between a carefully embroidered cover. The variety of material used by publishers to construct these diminutive books exemplifies their status as miniature works of art: one 1840 prayer book for children boasts a white bone binding, a vellum spine, and gilded edges.
posted by Room 641-A (12 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, to be a millionaire! I would blow the family fortune on them all.

I once had a part-time job at a rare books library, where my greatest delight was when I was allowed to (very carefully) pencil the catalogue numbers on the tiny books. I was the only one who could write small enough. Even so, most of the books I was working with were 1-2 inches tall; those under an inch really were a challenge.
posted by jb at 10:37 AM on December 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

This is fascinating, thanks for posting it! I knew this was a field, but I had no idea that so many antique miniature books still exist. I'm glad I'm on a budget--and nowhere near the auction houses. Otherwise, the temptation to acquire just one would likely be to great to resist.
posted by Silverstone at 10:58 AM on December 10, 2016

I have a teeny Shakespeare portfolio from the 1800s that I bought at auction in London a zillion years ago. If I had funds, I would own all the teeny books. I lurves them so much.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:18 AM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

What is this? A bookstore for ants?
posted by fairmettle at 11:21 AM on December 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is awesome. One of the coolest things I own is a teeny tiny Bible that I found at a local bookstore many years ago, like an inch wide. Count me among those who would love to own a whole miniature library.
posted by mordax at 11:49 AM on December 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

For those interested in the contemporary market, Miniboox is a German bookstore specializing in miniature books in various languages.
posted by fairmettle at 4:09 PM on December 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

And Bo Press. Oh. Em. Gee. Ironic how miniature books shrink the bank balance. :::waves bye-bye to the money:::::
posted by datawrangler at 6:02 PM on December 10, 2016

Thanks for posting, Room 641-A. It's encouraging to see how much care goes into a little book. A lot of little books.
posted by datawrangler at 6:04 PM on December 10, 2016

If you love miniature books and are ever in the Netherlands, then you might consider a visit to Museum Meermanno in the Hague. They have a section dedicated to miniature books containing the Bibliotheca Thurkowiana Minor, a miniature library containing 1515 books. Here's a picture (with man for scale), here's a video showing off its contents (in Dutch), and another video with its creator and former owner (also in Dutch, but with subtitles).

Note: As a visitor of the museum you won't be able to get your hands on the miniature books, they're behind panes of glass.
posted by bjrn at 3:32 AM on December 11, 2016

"The good news is, I've found a publisher for my book, ..."
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:18 AM on December 11, 2016

Add miniature books to the list of things I never knew existed. This post brought me much delight. I love the internet.
posted by Kangaroo at 5:37 AM on December 11, 2016

Sometimes you just need a little something to read.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:35 AM on December 11, 2016

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