Thursday, September 23, 2010

Make Mine a Small One

The heading for this post is taken from a publication of the same name by Lawrence Clark Powell and provides a good introduction to a discussion about miniature books in my collection of librariana. Powell's Make Mine a Small One was first published in The New York Times on Dec. 6, 1964 and was then reprinted by Peacock Press (Berkeley,CA) in 1965 as part of the Peacock Press Miniatures series.  Powell's delightful essay is more about the challenges of large books in institutional and private libraries than about miniature books. At the end he writes, "I am prepared to write of my reception of a 1964 coffee table dinosaur.  This is how it will read: 'To describe the horror of Lawrence on receiving this loathsome present, is impossible.  He put on gloves and overalls before he removed the book from its wrapping lest he be soiled, and he moved closer to the fire so that he could more quickly dispose of it.' Miniature books are usually less than 3 inches tall and some are as small as a thumbnail.

I recently acquired a miniature book by John David Marshall that was formerly in the collection of Norman D. Stevens.  It is entitled One Librarian's Credo and it measures two and a half inches tall by two inches wide. It is inscribed "for NDS" from JDM".  Fifty copies of this little book were produced for the "friends of John David Marshall". Marshall begins his missive with "At the risk of sounding like a hopeless romantic entirely out of touch with the hi-tech world in which we live, I suggest that librarians need to devote some time and thought to books, just books - the writing, the publishing, the selling, the reviewing, the promotion, the uses, the preservation, the reading of books." 

I have one other miniature book in my collection, it is the Remarks of Archibald MacLeish at the Dedication of the Wallace Library, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, June 3rd, 1967. One thousand two hundred and fifty copies of this little book were printed in Haarlem, Holland.  It measures just under 3 inches tall and 2 inches wide.

All three of these publications involve special type fonts and printing techniques. Much more about the extensive field of miniature books can be found on the website of the Miniature Book Society and there is an excellent online exhibit of miniature books at the website of the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

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