In Your Palm
Early children's book authors often seem suffocatingly didactic, don't they? With titles like "The Little Liar" and "The Little Thief," you might expect everyone in the book business to have been equally grim, but I recently learned of one exception.
Samuel Wood (later to be joined by his sons) was an early New York publisher of children's works. A former schoolteacher, he observed that what little was being published for children was "uninteresting" and frequently improper. Year after year, their business expanded and they moved into progressively larger buildings on Pearl Street, at one point occupying a 5-story brick building.
Like our copy of "The History of Insects" above, most of the books feature charming woodcut illustrations. Mr. Wood would frequently fill his pockets with his miniature publications, go down to the docks, and hand them out to children.
One reason to make a tiny book is for it to easily fit into tiny hands, but it's also a fine way for bookbinders to show off their skills. Religious texts were also bound at easily totable proportions: Anne Boleyn carried a book of psalms to her execution.
Collected piecemeal, these books are now for sale as part of our catalog on miniature books. Though not all of them abide by the Miniature Book Society's standard - "one which is no more than three inches in height, width, or thickness", they can all fit in the palm of your hand.