A Matter of Size: Miniature Bindings & Texts from the Collection of Patricia J. Pistner at The Grolier Club, March 5 – May 18, 2019

“Thousands of years before books were contained within a hand-held technological tablet or phone, there were cuneiform tablets no bigger than the size of a quarter. On view in the second floor gallery of the Grolier Club are 275 rare diminutive texts and bindings from around the world that have been created over the span of 4,500 years.  Size matters: these tiny tomes range in size from a maximum of four inches to less than one millimeter. Drawn from the collection of Patricia J. Pistner, the exhibition represents the history of the book in miniature form.

A Matter of Size: Miniature Bindings & Texts from the Collection of Patricia J. Pistner includes cuneiform tablets and other antiquities, medieval manuscripts and early printed materials, books and bindings by women, imprints of Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln, as well as contemporary design bindings and artists’ books. 

A collector of miniature books for over thirty years, Pistner’s love for very small tomes began at the age of seven when she began “publishing” tiny books for her first doll’s house.  As an adult, her passion was reignited after being inspired to fill the small library shelves of the miniature French townhouse she had commissioned.” — The Grolier Club

Photographs by Corrado Serra.

Western Bindings: Embroidered Bindings (detail)

Western Bindings: Silver Bindings (detail)

The Unusual

The Unusual (detail)

Installation view of Little Libraries and Modern design Bindings

Little Libraries

Modern Design Bindings

The Ancient World: Western (detail)

The Ancient World and Manuscripts: Judaic (detail)

The Ancient World and Manuscripts: Islamic (detail)

The Ancient World and Manuscripts: Other (detail)

A Look Inside: Printing Miniature (detail)

Asian Materials

 “The plan to fill that library with real, readable, printed miniature books led to assembling the most aesthetically compelling, representative samples of the history of the book in the smallest formats,” says Pistner. “My hope is that fellow bibliophiles find tomes here that spark their interest and lead to an increased interest in and respect for the format.”

The exhibition is selected and organized by Pistner, along with Jan Storm van Leeuwen, former keeper of rare bindings at the Royal Library in The Hague and winner of the ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography for his important study, Dutch Decorated Binding in the 18th Century.