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Julian and Hope Edison Collection of Miniature Books

Five of the miniature books shown alongside a used #2 pencil. All five books fit along the length of the pencil with room to spare.

St. Louis native Julian Edison began collecting miniature books as a student at Harvard University after his wife, Hope Edison, gifted him a miniature set of The Plays of Shakespeare printed in 1825.

Julian Edison holding up a miniature book in front of a bookshelf of his miniature book collection.
Julian Edison with his miniature book collection.
The book is open on the letter "E" and showcases a drawing of Julian Edison.
Image from the exhibit, Julian Edison: A Giant in a Miniature World. A to Z of Small Creations: People, Presses, Publications by Dorothy A. Yule (Miniature Book Society, 2017).

To be considered a miniature, a book needs to be less than three inches or less in any dimension, with some much smaller than that. Miniature books serve as both talismans and practical references that can be carried with you at all times.

Today, Washington University’s Julian and Hope Edison Collection of miniature books includes over 3,500 miniature books in various languages, reference books, great works of literature, religious works, and books with unique bindings.

A small, miniature book of Hamlet alongside a small, wood carving of a skull.
Hamlet: Famous Quotes by Jan and Jarmila Sobota, part of the Shakespeare in Miniature Collection displaying selections of the Julian Edison Miniature Book Collection.
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A set of 40 volumes in a revolving case containing Shakespeare’s plays (Glasgow: David Bryce, 1900).

Related Exhibitions

Why So Small

An exhibition of the miniature books held within the Rare Books portion of the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections.

A Day in the Life

The portability of miniature books makes them perfect for carrying and using throughout daily life.

Shakespeare in Hand

The miniature books featured in Shakespeare in Hand are perfect for having Shakespeare on hand at all times.

Contact

Department
Special Collections, Special Collections, Preservation, and Digital Strategies
Name
Cassie Brand
she/her
Job Title
Curator of Rare Books
Phone Number
(314) 935-4950