It’s not surprising that one of the best selling books in the world has been produced in miniature form. Still, I didn’t expect to stumble across these two turn-of-the-century specimens today. I was on a hunt in an artifacts box for something completely different (and far less interesting!) when they caught my eye.
Throughout this post, click on any image to see a larger version. For more from our collections, see our tag for Miniature Books.
The Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments. Glasgow: David Bryce and Son, 1901.
This Bible, 1.75 x 1.25 inches, is attached by chain to a miniature lectern, apparently by the publishers themselves.
It is charming in this context, but the inside of the book is even more remarkable.
Not only does it contain the expected scripture, which can be read (with difficulty) with a magnifying glass, but it also features illustrations of Bible people and scenes.
The printer, David Bryce, was a well-known publisher of miniatures, and his books were sold in the U.S. under the imprint of Frederick A. Stokes, such as the example below.
The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 189?
This book is only .625 x .75 inches, smaller than a postage stamp. Here it is with a pencil, for comparison.
It comes in a metal locket-style carrying case smaller than a box of Tic Tacs, at 1.125 x 1.375 inches.
The ornamental case reads Midget-Book with magnifier window. Though this built-in magnifier isn’t enough to make the book legible, the print quality is good enough to allow us to read much of the text via a high quality scan.
Looking at the item at 1200 DPI, we also found some helpful explanatory text opposite the title page:
The Publishers beg to thank the Oxford University Press for enabling them to produce in this tiny form a facsimile of their Pica 16mo New Testament, printed upon the very thinnest Oxford India paper ever made.
If the original was 16mo or sixteenmo (or sextodecimo), it was already fairly small, though not “miniature,” at 4 x 6.75 inches.
Some information for this post was gleaned from the Guide to the Early Miniature Books Collection, 1727-1925, Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries (link). They appear to have the same Bryce Bible with stand, as well as a metal case Qur’an that is probably very similar to the tiny New Testament. (At the National Library of Scotland website, check out the pages on their metal case Bryce Qur’an as well as their metal case Bryce New Testament.)