les minuscules

Site d'art consacré aux livres minuscules

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

les minuscules

les minuscules

How to Collect Miniature Books

By Roger Huet

Collecting miniature books is a very exciting and profitable hobby, however, most people are not aware of the fact. Miniature book collectors are mini-bibliophiles or micro-bibliophiles.

What is a miniature book? A miniature book is a real book, perfectly printed and bound, no higher than three inches. However, some European countries accept four inches as the maximum size for a miniature book.

Miniature books classify by size categories:
Large miniature books: maximum 3 inches in height or width.
Regular miniature books or thumb books: maximum 2 inches.
Small miniature books or doll house books: maximum 1 inch, and
Micro books also called microbes: ½ inches or less. The world’s smallest miniature book as of October 2000 is: The Twelve Horary Signs – Chinese Zodiac. It measures only 0.0374 by 0.0374 inches or 0.95mm. The publishers are together the Printing Museum, Tokyo and the Toppan Printing Company of Japan.

Miniature books are published in many parts of the world, including Canada, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States where the greatest number of miniature book publishers live. Publishers and bookbinders often use experimental and highly innovative techniques.

The building of a collection. The sizes and subjects are diverse enough to permit anyone to build a collection reflecting his personal taste and interest. Some collectors specialize in thematic topics like proverbs, history, art, religion, humor, and children’s tales; others prefer to focus their collections in a specific size.

My advice to beginners is to initially build a general collection. Should they later specialize in one theme, it is possible for them to trade or sell the copies they do not need anymore and make a worthwhile profit.

The value of miniature books. The value of miniature books depends on various factors; the most important are their rarity, their bookbinding and the year of their publication.

Miniature books have existed since the end of the fifteen century; some of them are extremely rare and worth thousands of dollars. Books from the Nineteen-century are easiest to find and they are gorgeous and well done. The prices are still affordable staying in the hundred digits. Contemporary books are much less expensive; limited editions seldom surpass a hundred dollars, fortunately, the cuckoo books cost only a few dollars, they offer a large variety of subjects and exhibit black and white as well as full color illustrations.

Where to find miniature books? You can start by visiting a good bookstore where they usually have miniature dictionaries, tiny children books, small bibles and a great range of gift miniature books like proverbs, short stories, humor, fables, tales, children books, sport, and biographies.

Your second visit head for the antique shops in your area; they sometimes have miniature books long forgotten about on the bottom of a drawer. Local and international auctions disperse important collections and some items are very reasonable. The most important auctioneers are Bloomsbury Book Auctions, Christies and Sotheby, all settled in London, but with representatives in the United States. They publish catalogues that are a good source of reference on miniature books. You can also visit the web page of
e-bay.com that lists many miniature books.

Booksellers and publishers use to sell miniature books by catalog, you can find an exhaustive list in the Directory of the Miniature Book Society.

Visit their web page: http://www.mbs.org

The Miniature Book Society: Founded in 1982 and chartered in 1983 in the state of Ohio, the Miniature Book Society is an active world organization focused on personal exchange of ideas and miniature books. They publish a quarterly newsletter and a valuable directory of members with a section for publishers, bookbinders, designers, writers and dealers.

Once a year, the Miniature Book Society organizes a convention called The Grand Conclave. They are held in various cities around the world. During the four days, starting on October 12, there are meetings, workshops, organized visits, a gala banquet, two auctions and a Sunday Miniature Book Fair where about 80 publishers, bookbinders and specialized booksellers offer their treasures for sale. The exhibitors come from all over America as well as Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and Canada.

Collectors and publishers are also very active in Germany. A brother organization the Freundeskreis Miniaturbuch Berlin e.V. was founded in 1987 They publish the "Info-Dienst" a newsletter edited by Angelika Jaeck and have a web page: www.minibuch-berlin.de/

Another important collectors’ association is the Sammlerkreis Miniaturbuch e.V. Stuttgart, in charge of Heinz Mueller; they publish an interesting Miniaturbuch journal and have a web site: www.miniaturbuch.de .

A third German miniature book society, is the "Erster Deutscher Miniaturbuchverein Leipzig". They publish a journal called LMZ – Leipziger Miniaturbuch-Zeitschrift.

Specialized bookstores: There are two specialized bookstores in miniature books: The Miniature Book Oval Saloon of Tokyo directed by Rico Onuma lilliput@xa3.so-net.ne.jp and the Minilibris in Berlin, the web page is www.minilibris.de

Some antique bookstores have large sections of miniature books, the most important are: Bromer Booksellers, Glen & Mary Dawson, Jon Mayo, Lajos Babòs, Lorson’s Books and Prints, Michael Garbett Antiquarian Books, all listed in the Miniature Book Society directory.

Specialized magazines: The Microbibliophile is an excellent magazine printed quarterly by Jon Mayo publisher and bookseller in Vermont. You will find interesting reports on new publications. www.microbibliophile.com

Bibliography: To learn more about the history of miniature books you can read Miniature Books by Louis W. Bondy, The History of Miniature Books by Doris W. Welsh, Twentieth Century United States Miniature Books and Antique United States Miniature Books by Robert Bradbury.

‘My Adventures in Minibibliomania’ by Kathryn I. Rickard is a lovely miniature book highly recommended to every new collector.

How to display your miniature books: Miniature books are very charming items; they look beautiful on bookshelves among regular format books. However, when your collection increases, the proper way to display your collection is having miniature bookcases or small curio cabinets. Many models are available in furniture and in antique shops. The publisher of the Cuckoo books offers a tailored bookcase that is inexpensive.

Some collectors build miniature libraries with sophisticated furniture, such as a dollhouse. The most famous dollhouse libraries are the Little Castle of Colleen Moore at the Institute of Arts of Chicago and the Queen Mary's Doll's House at Windsor Castle (England); both libraries contain rare books. However, everyone can build a handsome library starting with a wood case and some creativeness.

Classification and cataloguing of miniature books: When you collect, it is important to catalog your entries and organize your books. You can computerize your catalog or use cards. Here are the most important areas for a miniature book catalog. 1) The location, 2) the title, 3) the author, 4) the size 5) the publisher, 6) the ISBN, 7) the country, 8)the language of the text 9) the price paid 10) the date of purchasing 11) the source: bookstore, publisher etc. 12) A catalog or any other information concerning the item, in your archives. 13) The edition a) limited edition and the number of copies and your number of each item, or b) mass produced 14) the type of binding a) soft covers or hard covers. Hard covers are in leather, leatherette, fabric or cardboard, b) the book can be sewn, pasted or spiral bound. 15) The illustrations: some books have illustrations and they can be hand painted or four-color process, or black and white.16) the autograph. 17) Any other useful information, such as the condition of the books a) mint b) stains c) cover or spine damaged, etc. 18) links to other books from the same author or the same publisher. 18) The display: Some books are boxed, others, like the cuckoo books, can have additional items as a necklace or a key ring.

Classification and cataloguing are very useful when you write an article, prepare a lecture or an interview, send some of your books for an exhibit, insure your collection, sell some items or your entire collection, or when you decide to donate your collection.

Collecting miniature books vs. other type of items: Every issue of an American postal stamp reaches millions of copies; miniature books even mass-produced are printed in small issues.

Miniature books convey a message; coins and stamps lose any practical value when kept out of circulation.

Coins and stamps are so numerous that several thousands items are required to build a collection but a valuable miniature book collection can be built with only 100 selected titles and show a great interest for the variety of subjects.

Miniature books are like trophies that you obtain after an exciting hunt.

Allow yourself to be bitten by the miniature book bug. It is incurable but will provide you with amazing pleasure. You will make friends near and far because of the warmth and friendly brotherhood among mini-bibliophiles.

Friday, March 03, 2006

les minuscules

les minuscules

The Ideal Miniature Library

The Ideal Miniature Library is a series of twenty titles to be collected

The books measure 1¼ x 1 x ¼ inches. They exhibit full color soft covers, excellent readable texts 80 pages long and many color illustrations. They can be read without the help of a magnifier.

The subjects cover a huge field of culture:
“Aesop life and fables”.
“Ancient Masters of Wisdom”.
“Beautiful Biblical Proverbs”.
“Cat Wisdom”, followed by a tale by Théophile Gauthier entitled “The White and Black Dynasties” published in French in 1850, under the title of “La Menagerie Intime”.
“Elvis Presley”, a very complete biography.
“The Language of Flowers”. The meaning attributed by Victorians to each flower so each bouquet conveys a message by itself.
“Happiness Proverbs” followed by “A Recipe for Happiness in Marriage”
“How to make a good speech” (step by step.)
“Love me tenderly”. (Love quotations and poems).
“Man’s Best Friend”. (A collection of fantastic quotations about dogs.)
“Venus Love Stories”.
“Reflections of Women”.
“The Finest Liar in the World”, a tale by Andrew Lang.
“Teddy Bear Land”, followed by “The True History of Teddy Bears”.
“The World Trade Center”. Story and Architecture by Natalie Buchman.
“America the Beautiful” by Katharina Lee Bates, followed by “American Quotations”.
“How to collect miniature books”. A must for every collector.
“Christmas Stories” : “Christmas in the Olden Days “by B. Dishaw King, followed by “The Little Match-Seller” by Hans Christian Andersen.
“The Return” by Guy de Maupassant.

The collection is designed to fit in a small wooden bookcase resembling a cuckoo clock.

for information click here

Le monde étrange et fascinant des minuscules


Il existe un monde mystérieux, inconnu du public. Un monde qui a ses propres règles, ses mystères, ses initiations, et ses joies sublimes, un monde réservé aux initiés, il s’agit du monde des livres miniatures qu’on appelle aussi minuscules.

Un livre miniature n’est pas seulement un livre, mais c’est presque toujours un chef d’œuvre. Pour les artisans du livre : imprimeurs, relieurs, illustrateurs et graphistes, le minuscule naît d’un défi, défi à l’art, et à la technique.

Les livres minuscules ne doivent pas dépasser 7½ cm ou 3 pouces sur chacun des côtés. Ils existent depuis des temps immémoriaux. Certains collectionneurs possèdent des tablettes et des rouleaux babyloniens qui datent de 2150 avant notre ère et la Lily Library d’Indianapolis possède un livre d’heures manuscrit fait à Bruges, qui date de 1440. Le livre minuscule imprimé apparaît à peine plus tard que l’invention de l’imprimerie. En 1486 Naples voit la publication de l’Officium Beatae Virginis Maria qui mesure 7½ x 5cm ou 3 pouces par 2 pouces, dont on conserve encore trois exemplaires.

Les premiers livres imprimés étaient des livres religieux, parmi eux il y a des livres d’Heures enrichis d’enluminures qui sont de pures merveilles. Dès le seizième siècle les minuscules ont abordé tous les sujets du savoir et de l’imagination humaine. À côté des livres charmants, faits pour être transportés dans des bourses et pour le plaisir des lecteurs, il y a ceux qui relèvent le défi ultime, celui d’être le plus petit. En 1674 est publié à Amsterdam un petit volume de 11x9mm dont le titre est Bloem-Hofje et qui contenait un poème. Il était magnifiquement relié en maroquin rouge et doré et avait un fermoir en métal. Il détiendra le titre du plus petit du monde pendant deux siècles. Un des exemplaires a atteint la somme de 14.950 dollars U.S. dans une vente aux enchères en 2005. D’autres merveilles l’ont concurrencé à travers les siècles dont le très fameux Oranje Geslagt, qui raconte dans un poème les rois de la famille d’Orange. Il mesure à peine 15x11mm publié également en Hollande en 1749. Le plus petit livre au monde est aujourd’hui The Twelve Horary Signs – Chinese Zodiac qui a été publié par le Printing Museum de Tokyo avec la Toppan Printing Company du Japon. Il mesure 0.95x 0.95mm ou 0.0374 by 0.0374 pouces. Il faut une aiguille fine pour tourner les pages et une très puissante loupe pour le lire.

De nombreux collectionneurs préfèrent les minuscules de taille un peu plus grande. Les livres de 1 pouce de haut ont leurs adeptes. Ils sont appelés des livres de maisons de poupées et il y a des éditeurs célèbres qui ne font que ce format de minuscules. Ces minuscules sont souvent étonnants de perfection, avec des tranchefiles, des pages de gardes, des illustrations très belles et très prolixes, des couvertures pleine-peau avec des dorures parfois étonnantes, en style français du 16e ou du 18e siècle. Dans cette taille on peut trouver des textes passionnants et lisibles à l’œil nu. D’autres collectionneurs portent leur dévolu sur des minuscules un peu plus grands, de deux ou trois pouces, que l’on peut manipuler plus aisément.

Les minuscules sont des objets fascinants. Placez-en un dans une bibliothèque de grande valeur et tous les yeux se porteront sur le minuscule. Ils règnent en maîtres, «small is beautiful». Voilà pourquoi ces petites créations traversent la barrière du temps. Personne n’aurait le courage de les maltraiter ou de les jeter. On les conserve avec amour et ils passent de génération en génération par les bibliothèques d’avides collectionneurs et de bibliophiles raffinés qui leur consacrent une partie de leur fortune et une grande part de leur temps.

Collectionner des minuscules c’est avant tout une chasse fascinante, car la plupart sont émis à tirage limité. On les trouve rarement dans des librairies commerciales. Ils logent plutôt à l’enseigne des librairies anciennes, et parfois de grandes collections sont dispersées dans des ventes aux enchères où ils atteignent des hauts prix. Il arrive que des brocanteurs détiennent un ou deux titres oubliés depuis des décennies dans un tiroir quelconque et que l’on peut acquérir alors pour quelques billets.

On peut bâtir une collection selon ses goûts et ses intérêts. Certains collectionneurs se spécialisent dans un sujet : les proverbes, l’histoire, l’art, la religion, l’humour, les livres pour enfants, d’autres préfèrent les livres d’une taille déterminée. Il y a d’immenses bibliothèques de minuscules, celle de Ruth Adomeith contenait plus de dix mille volumes, pour la plupart de grande valeur, celle de Caroline Lindemann en contient onze mille.

Le monde des livres minuscules c’est un de mystère, de chasse, de secrets chuchotés, de trésors retrouvés, et surtout de passion, car sans passion on ne produit pas des objets aussi beaux et aussi difficiles, sans passion on ne bâtit pas non plus des collections fascinantes.