Friday, February 18, 2011

Tiny books

While Fales has a lot of oversized items in the collection, we also have some tiny ones. The item below is possibly the smallest - an 1843 "History of the Bible", printed in Cooperstown, NY by H. & E. Phinney.

This book, known as a "Thumb Bible", is 49mm in height, bound in leather, with a cross-stitched spine to hold the boards.

The text, which truncates the Bible story into 192 pages of 12 lines of text, includes woodcuts of  the heads of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Job, Aaron, Micah, Joshua, Samson, Ahab, Jonah, Daniel, Elijah, Nicodemus, Pontius Pilate, and King David. Also included are woodcuts of various 'action' scenes: Moses 'receiving' the Law, Bears tearing the Children, Jonah and the Whale, Daniel in the Lions Den and The Crucifixion.  

Thumb Bibles were primarily designed for children who could not yet read the full Biblical text themselves, and were usually decorated, as this is, with images. The first known example was printed in London in 1601, and they also appeared in France, Holland and Germany as well as England and the United States.