Good things do, indeed, come in small packages when examining miniature books. Although 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 or length.

Miniature books, usually prayer books, appeared in Europe during the Middle Ages. They were tiny in order to be easily carried and also so they could be concealed from prying eyes.

By the 19th century, books in general had become more affordable and miniature books really came into vogue. As with earlier eras, they were prized because they were portable Napoleon Bonaparte was known to have assembled a miniature library that accompanied him on his conquests around Europe. He may even have placed them on a miniature shelf like this one.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, books from almost every genre were available as miniatures, including classic fiction, dictionaries, bibles, prayer books, and other non-fiction works like fishing guides where the user was out and about. Publishers also began producing miniature libraries for children, specially designing the books to be more comfortably held in small hands.

As printing and binding techniques improved, book makers displayed their skills by creating even smaller books with increasingly intricate and beautiful bindings. Today it is possible to find miniature books smaller than half an inch featuring gilt and intricate designs.

We recommend Miniature Books: 4,000 Years of Tiny Treasures by Anne Bromer as the key book about miniature books. Anne is part of Bromer Booksellers – one of the finest rare bookdealers on AbeBooks.

For an excellent selection of affordable miniature books, browse these little beauties from John Howell for Books.

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A Large Selection of Small Books

Miniature Qur'an

Miniature Qur'an

Just like bibles, miniature versions of the Qur’an have been popular.

Silver Filigree Miniature Binding Alone

Silver Filigree Miniature Binding Alone

A beautiful filigree (twisted threads of metal) binding with a leaf ornament.

Atlas Minimus by John Gibson

Atlas Minimus
John Gibson

Published in 1758, a set of pocket maps for the known world – the size of a pack of cards

The Mite by Ernest Robinson

The Mite
Ernest Robinson

First published in 1891, The Mite lived up to its name and was once the smallest English book ever printed.

The Coming of Arthur by Lord Alfred Tennyson

The Coming of Arthur
Lord Alfred Tennyson

Little Leather Library Edition - tiny treasure at 4" tall and 3" wide.

Mites and other Poems by John Updike

Mites and other Poems
John Updike

Lord John Press published a limited (just 200) miniature edition of Updike’s poetry.

Dutch Prayer Book

Dutch Prayer Book

A miniature prayer book from Holland published in 1683, 1 ½” x 1 1/16”

Small Knowledge miniature library

Small Knowledge miniature library

First and only edition of a children's library on many school subjects, preserved in its original box.

Calendrier Pour L' Année 1826

Calendrier Pour L' Année 1826

Beautifully illustrated French children’s annual – just 2 5/8” x 1 13/16”.

Miniature Songster Set

Miniature Songster Set

Set of children’s song book s (1-1/2" x 2-3/16"). Additional copies of Naval Songster are available.

Le Petit Poucet by Charles Perrault

Le Petit Poucet
Charles Perrault

A very small version (1 ½” x 1 3/16”) of this well-known fable.

1900 Paris

1900 Paris

Photographs of Paris mounted on plates of thin gold-covered metal.

The Rose Garden of Omar Khayyam by Eben Francis Thompson

The Rose Garden of Omar Khayyam
Eben Francis Thompson

A famous miniature book (3/16” x 7/32"), considered the smallest book in the world at one time.

A Birthday Memoir by Francis J Weber

A Birthday Memoir
Francis J Weber

Measuring 1 3/4 x 1 1/2", this book is signed by the publisher.

The Inaugural Address of Richard Milhous Nixon

The Inaugural Address of Richard Milhous Nixon

Dark blue leather with title gilt on the spine, and with presidential design on the front cover.

Blood Show by Mark Ryden

Blood Show
Mark Ryden

A collection of grotesque paintings – signed deluxe edition.

Ilias et Odyssea by Homer

Ilias et Odyssea

A stunning small book from Greece - text in Greek.

Quintus Horatius Flaccus by Quintus Horatius

Quintus Horatius Flaccus
Quintus Horatius

Works of the Roman poet Horace, written in Latin (3 3/8” x 2 1/16”).

Speeches and Letters of George Washington by George Washington

Speeches and Letters of George Washington
George Washington

Little Leather Library edition - originally promotional items through the mail. 4" tall by 3" wide.

Almanach Auf des Jahr

Almanach Auf des Jahr

This German almanac was published in 1834 and is 7/8” x 5/8 - a technical marvel for the time.

An Imperfect Solution by joe D'Ambrosio

An Imperfect Solution
Joe D'Ambrosio

No. 36 of 50, signed by D’Ambrosio.  Five boxes including various items like shells, pearls, flowers etc.

The New House by David Mamet

The New House
David Mamet

First edition, limited to 250 numbered copies

A Voyage to Lilliput & A Voyage to Brobdingnag by Jonathan Swift

A Voyage to Lilliput & A Voyage to Brobdingnag
Jonathan Swift

Gulliver’s Travels in two volumes, a giant book (13 3/8” x 18 ½”) and a tiny one (2 ½” x 3 ½”).

The Gorgon's Head

The Gorgon's Head

A five-color lithographed booklet published in 1917.

Amsterdam Almanac

Amsterdam Almanac

A miniature Dutch almanac in an emblematic embroidered binding, circa 1786.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Julius Caesar
William Shakespeare

Red miniature library edition circa 1920-1921, 4"x3"

Smallest Dictionary in the World

Smallest Dictionary in the World

Measures just 1” x ¾” and is encased in a metal locket with built-in magnifier.

The Twenty Third Psalm by Tasha Tudor

The Twenty Third Psalm
Tasha Tudor

Illustrated by Tudor, this miniature measures 3 11/16” x 2 13/16”

Scrappety-Hop and Pearly-Top by Anon

Scrappety-Hop and Pearly-Top

Fairy tale ending for a boy who rescues a dwarf and is given magic fir cones to help him gain his princess.

Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens

Real leather edition circa 1915-1916, 3"x4"

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