The miniaturization of reading material has been an on-going process since the Babylonians were in business around 1500 BC, the present definition of a miniature book is any book that is less than about 3 inches in width and length; although outside of the United States books up to 4 inches are considered miniature. Miniature books, usually prayer books, appeared in Europe during the Middle Ages. During the 19th and 20th Centuries, books from almost every genre were available as minis, including classic fiction, dictionaries, bibles, prayer books, and other non-fiction works. As their popularity increased, the variety of texts expanded and, by the eighteenth century, included titles for children. As with earlier eras, they were prized because they were portable Napoleon Bonaparte was known to have assembled a mini library that accompanied him on his conquests around Europe. Today it's possible to find mini books smaller than a half inch in Anne Bromer's book: Mini Books: 4,000 years of tiny treasures is the key book about mini books.
Early American miniature books mirror their larger contemporaries: the texts are moral, the bindings plain. The majority of the volumes in the American Antiquarian Society's collection contain works of a religious nature. Of the 156 American editions of thumb Bibles cited by Ruth Elizabeth Adomeit in her Three Centuries of Thumb Bibles: A Checklist (New York and London, 1980), the Society holds approximately one hundred examples, dating from 1765. All was not completely serious in the world of American miniature books. Songsters, hymnals, almanacs, and histories vied with entertaining and instructive texts.
One could carry a vast number of books in a small case for when one travelled, Many are bound in fine Moroccan leather, gilt and contain excellent examples of woodcuts. etchings, and watermarks. They were also carried in waistcoat pockets and ladies' reticules.There are many miniature books today that have become collector's items which range from a few hundred dollars to thousands.Below is a video on how to make miniature books; these types are books are made even today but mainly for use in dollhouses or the famous American Girl Dolls; They can also mimic actual sized books. There is even miniature book shelves made today to house these tiny treasures. If you are interested in learning even more about these you actually able to join a miniature book society at: www.mbs.org. In 2013, there was a collaborative project in Virginia of a group of artists' those of who had all made different variations of miniature books. There were copies in the range from 20-50 but in the collection there was 15 nicely boxed up and is for sale for $1,200 on the website listed in the resource section.
A Miniature BookShelf