Miniature Books

The Miniature Books Collection

A collection of over 200 miniature books.

About the collection

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A selection of miniature books

Miniature books are books distinguished by their size - generally smaller than 3” - rather than format or rarity. They are almost as old as the written word. Small cuneiform tablets were found in ancient Babylon and, before the invention of printing, miniature manuscripts were produced using very small script and beautiful illuminations.

The Mitchell Library has a collection of over 200 miniature books. Glasgow has a certain affinity for miniature books. In the eighteenth century the brothers Foulis, whose works as printers to the university are among the most important in the Library’s collection of Early Glasgow Printing, produced miniature editions of the classics, including volumes printed on silk.

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1754 Pindar, Works, printed by Robert and Andrew Foulis 1754-58

The Collection includes several books from Glasgow publishers David Bryce and Son, one of the foremost publishers of miniature books. David Bryce took over his father’s successful publishing and bookselling firm in 1870 and in 1877 decided to produce miniature editions of popular works such as The Bible, dictionaries, Burns’ poetry and Shakespeare. The firm went on to become one of the most prolific miniature book publishers in the world.

There is also a substantial representation of the work of the world-famous Gleniffer Press, from nearby Paisley, whose most famous publication is an edition of ‘Old King Cole’ which measures 1mm square and at one time was the smallest book in the world. The collection also includes books from a variety of sources, from a London Psalter on 1612 to modern miniatures from Australia, Germany and North America.

The books come in fine bindings, sometimes with specially made cases or shelves. Some are now rare as their small size meant that they were often lost, forgotten or destroyed by accident. Their charm lies not just in their small size but in our appreciation of the skill and artistry needed to produce such tiny marvels in print.

Finding Aid

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A selection of miniature books

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The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments. Glasgow: David Bryce and Son, 1890.


You can find the complete collection on our online catalogue.

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