Maria Williams-Russell Art Blog
by art_review , May 8, 2007—12:00 AM
!IMAGE140!Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the Boston Public Library__™s main branch in Copley Square to see their miniature books exhibit entitled 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures. While I have always considered handmade books pieces of art, I have to say that the miniature versions are awe-inspiring. If you are new to miniature books, like I was, you will probably first ask yourself, ___why?__™ and then, after passing over a few of these magical little fineries, you will ask, ___why not more?__™
The books, many of which are the size of a postage stamp or smaller, are all meticulously made tiny treasures indeed. Covered with finely crafted and customized cases the books evoke the feeling of being presented with a precious gift. Remove the case to find tucked into the inner lid a mini magnifying glass, which is fascinating in its own right. The book__™s covers are often laden with intricate, decorative handiwork and done in leather. Once you get to the books themselves, they seem like the surprise luscious filling to a gourmet chocolate.
The books vary widely in craft and content. Many have wonderful personal touches like built-in bookmark tassels, are printed in color or black and white, and have serious or whimsical content. The collection includes books about herb gardens, books of poetry, and much more.
In fact, a lot more! This particular collection is a conglomeration of the Public Library__™s own miniature book collection and part of the collection of Boston based antiquarian bookseller Anne Bromer of Bromer Booksellers. Bromer has co-written a book of the same name as the exhibit, 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures, and is an expert on the subject of miniature books as well as rare books in general. This exhibit has many highlights, including a miniature book illustrated and signed by Pablo Picasso, the complete works of William Shakespeare, The Emancipation Proclamation, many ___concise___ versions of the Holy Bible, a gold gilt mini Koran, and even early miniature stone tablets.
For an experience that is physically miniature, the overall effect is great, which for me was the whole point. I desperately wanted to handle one of the books to see what it felt like to be a giant. I wanted to put one of those mini magnifying glasses to my eye to see if I could actually see an entire mini world open up through the lens __" they are fantastic in that way, unexpected, and totally impractical, except to evoke wonder.
It is hard to imagine what people might have done with these books. I discovered that some more recent of the collection were made for dollhouses, and the larger books displayed, perhaps the size of a business card, which were used while traveling. But, in most cases, I think they were made as art for arts' sake, and were used as precious keepsakes to be carried in the pocket, and to marvel upon the loveliness of something so small, beautiful, and delicate.
If you are a fan of art book making, miniatures, typography, book binding, or giants, you__™ve got to see this! The exhibit runs now through September 2, 2007 and is free and open to the public. Enjoy!
Maria Williams-Russell is the Minds Island Editor in Chief and has worked as a web marketing consultant for art related websites for the last five years. She is also currently working on her MFA in Poetry at Goddard College. If you are interested in writing for Minds Island, please contact Maria for submission guidelines at email@example.com