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. The collection is currently being cataloged.

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).

Contact

Department
Library
Name
Cassie Brand
Job Title
Curator of Rare Books
Phone Number
(314) 935-4950

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