Archive for November, 2013

Size Matters: A Moment with the Miniature Books by Library Assistant Nina Mamikunian

November 25, 2013

The miniature book collection at the Clark Library is probably one of our most eye-catching yet least-used collections. As much as I would love to see our scholars pore over these tiny tomes, magnifying glasses in hand, the fact of the matter is that the miniature books hardly leave their shelf. However, whenever there is a tour or a class visit, invariably there is at least one person who notices the cabinet and is instantly fascinated, asking “Are they real?” and “Can you actually read them?” I am here to tell you that yes, they are real books, and yes, you might have to squint, but you can read them.

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There are a few of the miniature books in the collection that I would like to highlight, particularly Barbara Raheb’s Oscar Wilde editions. Our Oscar Wilde collection is extensive (and well-used) but Raheb’s books are unlike any other, as they are only 24 millimeters tall. That’s slightly less than an inch!

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Raheb first came to miniature books by way of miniature dollhouse accessories. According to Robert C. Bradbury’s 20th Century United States Miniature Books, it was Queen Mary’s dollhouse at Windsor Castle that first captured Raheb’s attention, and she began producing miniature books for dollhouses in 1976 under the name Mudlark Miniatures. In 1980 she began using the imprint Pennyweight Press and focused her attention on books for miniature book collectors. Raheb’s prolific output (over five hundred miniature books according to Bradbury) and the high caliber of her work earned her the Miniature Book Society’s Norman W. Forgue award in 1995 for her outstanding contributions to the miniature book world.

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These miniatures are undeniably “real books.” Raheb’s books are bound in leatherette, have marbled endpapers and gilt titles on the covers and spines, are illustrated and have text. And as long as there have been books, there have been miniature books. A excellent overview of miniature book history can be found over at the Lilly Library’s online exhibit “4000 Years of Miniature Books” [http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/miniatures/index.shtml] But the miniatures are nearly impossible to read without a magnifying glass. And if books are meant to be read, what, then, is their appeal? For starters, they are easier to carry around (this was important for the traveling libraries) and they are sometimes easier to hold (and this was important for children’s books). Miniature books are also easier to conceal. The first book on contraception, Fruits of Philosophy; or, The Private Companion of Young Married People, by Dr. Charles Knowlton in 1832 was a mere 2 7/8 by 2 1/2 inches. (When Knowlton, who did not include his name on the book, was discovered as the author, he was briefly jailed.) [“Why Miniature Books?” By Anne C. Bromer, http://www.go-star.com/antiquing/miniature-books.htm%5D

But there is no need these days to conceal The Picture of Dorian Gray or The Selfish Giant and paperbacks are easy enough to carry aroundWhy mini books today and why so incredibly mini? As Doris Welsh points out in the The History of Miniature Books, miniature books are charming. They captivate the imagination. They are tiny marvels that take a tremendous amount of effort and time. For me, their tininess draws attention to aspects of bookmaking that I might overlook simply due to over-familiarity. I rarely think about font-size with most books, but show me a miniature book and suddenly I want to know how tiny the type is. (Raheb’s are done in 9-point font and then photographically reduced. In the nineteenth century, before the advent of photoreduction, typesetters and publishers cast incredibly tiny 2- and 3-point fonts.) Miniature books, such as “Thumb Bibles” and “lilliput dictionaries,” were often produced for their novelty and to show off the publisher’s skills. What’s striking to me when looking at pictures of miniature books in bibliographies or online is that — unless there is something else in the picture to show the scale — I would never be able to guess just how incredibly small and marvelous these books really are.

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Fellowships

November 14, 2013

UCLA’s Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies offers a number of fellowships for graduate students and post-doctoral scholars to conduct research using Clark Library collections. Our list of fellowships is here: http://www.c1718cs.ucla.edu/fellowships.htm. Note that the deadline to apply is 1 February 2014, so you have plenty of time to get your applications ready.

If you have questions about applying for our fellowships, contact Myrna Ortiz at the Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies: http://www.c1718cs.ucla.edu/.

If you have questions regarding our collections as you prepare your fellowship applications (or otherwise!), contact the Reader Services staff of the library: http://clarklibrary.ucla.edu/contact. We would be happy to tell you more about our collections and which might be useful to your research interests.

Roads of Italy

November 5, 2013

By Library Assistant Karie Jenkins

Le porte-feuille necessaire a tous les seigneurs qui font le tour d’Italie(Roads of Italy: A guide book necessary for all gentlemen who do a tour of Italy…)

Roads of Italy Boot

This book acquisition by  the Clark Library was made to compliment the recent collection acquisition of twenty manuscript notebooks and journals of  eighteenth century science, travel, and culture by Louis-Benjamin Fleuriau de Bellevue’s Grand Tour of France and Italy, 1788-1791.

Fall has arrived at The Clark and many of us are mourning our summer vacations.  Just thinking about the possibility of taking time off to travel can make one absolutely wanderlust.  Some of the places one may wish to visit could be romantic and rich with history, or more picturesque and quiet.  Wherever it is we wish to go, we know transportation is reliable.  Traveling can be as simple as printing out tickets and jumping into a rental car with a built-in GPS.  Either way, traveling has become easy and efficient.  This level of advancement has caused the traditional use of maps and atlases to become antiquated. The maps and atlases of the past can tell us what travel used to be like back when these materials were essential tools for navigation.

Today I came across a bilingual travel atlas called “Roads of Italy,” published by Andrew Drury in London, 1774.  The atlas was printed in both French and Italian, as these were the primary languages of the time, and it was intended for the multilingual English traveler.  It has 27 hand-colored etched maps that fold out like mini-accordions.  The place names, cities, and landmarks were all printed in Italian.  According to the atlas, it can be assumed that being familiar with multiple, popular languages was crucial for navigation during the 16th century.

Roads of Italy Title Page

Aside from the maps, there is a section dedicated to the cost of room and board, and transportation.  Such questions are answered as will the English traveler be riding two horses or one?  What will the cost of lodging be and who are the most trustworthy innkeepers?  These questions of Drury’s travel atlas evoke a rather intimate relationship between person and object. The atlas is not simply a book, but a dependable guide that offers reliable information during moments of wanderlust or business travel.  The knowledge of the regions were reflections of Drury and his contemporaries based on past experiences and word-of-mouth.

There is not much written about Drury’s life aside from the fact that he was a member of the Duke’s court and a publisher of various atlases, some of which are located at The Clark Library. We may not know who the atlas was printed for specifically, but we can certainly understand how people during the late 18th century approached travelling by analyzing these books.  Today, Drury’s “Roads of Italy” can be seen as a tactile narrative of London’s history of navigation.  No longer used for a utilitarian purpose, the atlas has transcended into an eminent relic, which pronounces how immensely difficult traveling was and how courageous the men and women were to pursue such a feat.

Roads of Italy Milano

Clark Library Call Number:

DG424 .P84 *