London based rare and antiquarian bookdealer, works in a basement full of leather-bound volumes, over-emotional book-based flailing a speciality!
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Time again for our weekly series - Miniature Mondays!

Robert Huet , The Miniature Collection of Shakespeare’s World.

This gorgeous wooden box houses twelve glittering books, all about William Shakespeare!  Each book is leather bound with gold tooling, and 1 x 3/4 inch tall.  The books are written by various authors on subjects concerning Shakespeare and his era.   Some included titles are:  “Collected Insults of Shakespeare,” “Actors in 16th Century England,” “The Life of William Shakespeare,” and “Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays?”   For a complete list of titles, follow this link.

The Miniature Collection of Shakespeare’s World. Montreal, Canada: Roger Huet, 2000. Number 63 of 199.

 Post by Laura H.


This is the inside of the lovely binding featured recently.

This book is from Thomas á Kempis and is called De Imitatione Christi from 1489. It is written in Latin. BV4820 .A1 1489

Printed just a generation after Johannes Gutenberg’s Bible, the books in the first 50 years of printing with moveable type in the West are called incunabula (from the “cradle” or origin of printing). The category name exists because they more closely resemble handwritten manuscripts than modern printed books. Printers step by step began inventing the features that developed into what we recognize as a modern book, and the year 1500 is considered the (arbitrary) cutoff for incunabula. Existing side by side with handwritten manuscripts on vellum, incunabula are frequently decorated with care, treated to costly embellishment just like their parchment counterparts.

If you look at the inside of the front and back boards of the binding, this book was reinforced with bits of an “old” manuscript that wasn’t needed any longer as a text.  Sometimes texts thought to be lost turn up in bits and pieces, tucked in as waste in the bindings of later books.  Can you read this one? Our catalog has the scraps identified as “from a 14th century psalter.”


The Discovery of Witchcraft is the short title for Reginald Scot’s 1584 work on magical things.  The long title gives you an idea of what Scot was trying to educate the reader about:

The Discouerie of witchcraft, Wherein the lewde dealings of witches and witchmongers is notablie detected, the knauerie of coniurors, the impietie of inchantors, the follie of soothsaiers, the impudent falsehood of cousenors, the infidelitie of atheists, the pestilent practices of Pythonists, the curiostie of figurecasters, the vanitie of dreamers, the beggerlie art of Alcumystrie, The abhomination of iodlatrie, the horrible art of poisonings, the virtue and power of natural magike, and the cnueiances of Legierdemain and iuggling are deciphered: and many other things opened, which have long lien hidden, howbeit verie necessarie to be knowne.

The 560 page work includes several woodcuts and a table of contents.  During his lifetime, Scot wrote one other book on hop-gardens.

(London: William Brome, 1584)

158.3 .S42

Post by Laura and Jillian


Something I didn’t know:

A cumdach (IPA: [ˈkuṽdax]) or book shrine is an elaborate ornamented box or case used as a reliquary to enshrine books regarded as relics of the saints who had used them in Early Medieval Ireland. They are normally later than the book they contain, often by several centuries, typically the book comes from the heroic age of Irish monasticism before 800, and the surviving cumdachs date from after 1000, although it is clear the form dates from considerably earlier. Several were then considerably reworked in the Gothic period. The usual form is a design based on a cross on the main face, with use of large gems of rock crystal or other semi-precious stones, leaving the spaces between the arms of the cross for more varied decoration. Several were carried on a chain or cord, often suspended round the neck, which by placing them next to the heart was believed to bring spiritual and perhaps medical benefits (the same was done with the St Cuthbert Gospel in a leather bag in medieval Durham). They were also used to witness contracts. Many had hereditary lay keepers from among the chiefly families who had formed links with monasteries. Most surviving examples are now in the National Museum of Ireland (“NMI”).

From Wikipedia.

The images you see here are reproductions available at the MET museum The originals haven’t been digitized or made available on the internet yet.


Behold the amazing, incredible, not-edible Victorian peep egg, featuring a series of miniature prints showcasing the engineering might that is the Thames Tunnel! FYI, the awesome gif was created by one of our phenomenal student employees!


Not too many of our books are held together with iron bars and nails, but this hefty hymnal needs the support for its massive wooden boards.

Privately printed in 1646, for the Monastery of Santa Maria della Pace by Giovanni Agostino Casoni della Spezia in Genoa, no expense was spared for this weighty wonder, including commissioning a giant unique typeface and initials that were used exclusively for this work.  (Do you see how big that “I” is?  It is as big as my hand!).  In addition, each of the 103 pages is a full sheet printed as a broadside.

This is our most recent acquisition, and the bookseller Bruce McKittrick and his team did an incredible amount of research to figure out all the details about this unique hymnal.  As we sort through the included research and catalog this item, we will post an update.

Bruce McKittrick! *swooon


The Appendix recently published an interesting article by Sean Trainor about Lincoln’s beard – or whiskers, I should say – that got us thinking about one particular item in our collections.

This book is a nineteenth-century desk reference purporting to be “a concise and trustworthy compendium of the principal events of the Ancient and Modern times.” It was printed in London for the British and American market in 1867.  There’s nothing special about the binding or the paper, and the title itself isn’t rare.  In other words, this is one of the most boring books we own.  Until you discover its secret.

This book has a painting hidden under its gilded edges, invisible until the pages are fanned and the book is read.  It’s called a fore-edge painting, a technique which reached the height of its popularity in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England.  Fore-edge paintings are often landscapes or scenes from history, mythology, or the book they decorate. Some also commemorate authors or historical figures, like this one. See uispeccoll's post on fore-edge paintings to see more of them.

We have about two dozen volumes with fore-edge paintings in our collections.  Most of them, including this one, were the gift of Helen Jenkins, a Kipling collector who left her library to the University of Missouri in 2013.

This particular painting features a portrait roundel of a beardless Abraham Lincoln flanked by two American flags and surmounted by the eagle of the United States seal. The book is really thick - over 1,000 pages - so it’s hard to show the entire painting at once.  But you can get a good idea of how it would have looked to a reader when the book was open.

After Lincoln’s assassination, his portrait appeared in countless books, newspapers, and broadsides, as well as on memorabilia such as mourning ribbons and jewelry.  We find it interesting that in 1867 or sometime thereafter, with so many images of Lincoln available, the artist chose to depict the beardless politician from Illinois rather than the presidential figure we all know.