More than meets the eye: Open House featuring German miniature books on Oct. 3rd at Stanford Libraries

September 27, 2017
Kathleen M Smith
Image of the cover of Kampfreime

To commemorate the German national holiday Tag der Deutschen Einheit (Day of German Unity) on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017, there will be an Open House in Special Collections from 1:00PM-4:00PM featuring some of the miniature books and materials from the Germanic collections at Stanford Libraries.

Several German Miniature Books

Sometimes described as any book under 3” in width or height, a miniature book can reflect any genre and are known to have existed as early as the Middle Ages—their size proving advantageous for travel and, if necessary, for concealment. However, the small scale that defines them can also be used to criticize them as mere novelty items: for example, Carter & Barker’s seminal reference work ABC for Book Collectors describes miniature books dismissively as “books whose principal (usually only) interest lies in their very small size.”

German Miniature Book

The works on display at this Open House challenge such assumptions about miniature books: these items were created not only to demonstrate their maker’s skill, but also to serve as prayer book or propaganda, as dictionary or dream interpreter, and even to do battle! The tiny size of each book reveals volumes about its creation and its intended uses.

This event is on a drop-in basis, so please feel free to stop by for a quick look or an in-depth examination of the materials on display.

  German Miniature Book

Author

Kathleen Smith. Photo by Wayne Vanderkuil

Kathleen M Smith

Curator, Germanic Collections & Medieval Studies