Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Small, Smaller, Tiny

A hand holding a miniature, gold stamped book.
In Rauner, books come in all shapes and sizes. Indeed, some of our most interesting items can easily fit in the palm of your hand. Rauner's miniature books show that with some creativity and a small enough typeface, you can cram just about anything into a tiny book.

A hand holding a miniature book in Arabic.
The smallest of the miniature books is a Koran approximately the size of someone's thumbnail. Written in Arabic, the words and designs within are impossibly small. However, the miniature book solves the problems inherent to its size through packaging. The book is enclosed in a small metal locket with an inset magnifying glass: a perfect fusion of style and practicality. It's owner, none other than Lawrence of Arabia, would have needed to travel light as he crossed and re-crossed the forbidding deserts of the Middle East during the First World War.

A hand holding a miniature book open to the title page: "The Fairy Annual."
Another one of Rauner's smallest books explains its diminutive size through fantastic origins. Robin Goodfellow, "Attendant Sprite to Their Majesties Oberon and Titania," published the Fairy Annual in 1838. Inside lies a series of stories, poems and illustrations of fairies and other magical creatures. The book is almost too small for a human to read. However, elegantly bound in brown leather, the book would look perfect on the bookshelf of a fairy about one twentieth of our size.

The Diamond Etiquette of Courtship and Marriage (pictured above), conversely, is clearly intended for human use. Published in 1845, the pocket-sized book seems to be written on the concept that one never knows when they may need advice regarding their love lives. The book walks the reader from courtship (one must avoid being seen as a flirt) to marriage (and the associated end of intimacy with one's "bachelor friends.") The miniature nature of the book was likely more for show than practicality. However, the image of a nineteenth-century lady or gentleman pulling The Diamond Book of Etiquette from their sleeve upon a proposal of marriage demonstrates the usefulness of miniature books in urgent etiquette situations.

A miniature book of marbled paper with a pop-out block of text.
A final miniature book that could come in handy if discretely tucked away is I've Called You All Together… A Book of Toasts. I may not need The Fairy Annual or The Diamond Etiquette on me at all times. However, the extremely portable size of the Book of Toasts makes it ideal for every occasion. While the other items resemble normal books shrunk down several magnitudes, I've Called You All Together is styled for readability. The book uses accordion style binding to publish a series of toasts. Snippets include, "May we look forward with pleasure, and backward without regret," and "May your children have rich parents." The book is one of only fifty, so your dinner companions will think you have the most original toasts at the table when you subtly pull this out. Rauner has hundreds of other miniature books for all occasions, whether you want to have the Gettysburg Address or Humpty Dumpty in your pocket at all times.

Check out Rauner Miniature 117 for The Diamond Book of Etiquette, Presses P389iv for I’ve Called You All Together, Miniature 77 for The Fairy Annual, and Lawrence BP 130.4 .K57 for the Koran.

Posted for Kate Taylor '13.

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