Dickens, A Christmas Carol
DICKENS, A CHRISTMAS CAROL
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is one of the best known books in British literature. The first edition of six thousand copies was published few days before Christmas 1843, and it sold out within a week. Countless editions of this book have been published ever since, but there is only one that is bound in deep brown eel skin, no larger than a bone in one’s finger.
This miniature book, which of course only contains a fragment of Dickens’ text, was issued in 2004 by the publishers Miniatuur Boekbinden of Tine Krijnen in an edition of 150 copies. It contains nine pages, folded leporello-style, with pop-ups and movable figures. The text, printed in 5 point type, is legible with a magnifying glass, and the clasp on the front edge of the little binding consists of a piece ‘recycled ivory’ according to the publisher.
The Museum Meermanno owns over six hundred miniature books, including more than fifty from the 17th and 18th centuries and a few dozen from the 19th century. The core of the collection – over 170 books – comes from the collection of Abraham and Alice Horodisch, who are well-known names in this field. Abraham Horodisch was an antiquarian bookseller in Amsterdam. Every year after 1943 Alice made a unique miniature book for his birthday. She continued to do so until her death in 1984. All these tiny books, forty in all, are present in the Meermanno.
The oldest miniature book in the Meermanno collection dates from 1521 and originates from Venice. Another fine object is Bloemhofje by C. van Lange, which was printed in 1673 in Middelburg. For two centuries it was known as the tiniest book in the world. It is no larger than a fingernail. The book comprises 24 leaves of printed text, and is bound in gilt red morocco and supplied with a small filigree gold clasp.
In addition to this copy of A Christmas Carol, the Meermanno owns a proof sheet for the book, which is not only a miniature book but a pop-up book too.