Santa Stockings & Miniature Books Part II

Santa Stocking
Santa Stocking

Before Christmas I wrote about miniature books and I wondered would Santa bring me a miniature book? As with any Special Collections there is a back-log of unprocessed collections. While I was sorting through one of the unprocessed collections I found a miniature book; meanwhile our Cataloguing section also found one! Both will be catalogued shortly.

The River side welcomes this jointly written blog post from Elaine Harrington (Special Collections) and Teresina Flynn (Cataloguing).

Special Collections’ Find – Elaine Harrington

The miniature book that I found,  Nombres de Oro: Mujeres Célebres, contains five biographies in Spanish. It is part of a series “Coleccion Capricho” which covers novels, biographies, theatre, poetry, humour, history and the classics. To the back of the miniature book is a description of the series “precious volumes of 700 pages bound in fine silk…thus showing true taste and first rate luxury. A selected and interesting variety of literature for pleasant reading.” Also included are advertisements for other works in the series including famous women (vols. 1, 4, 6, 9), famous men ( vols. 2, 7), famous works (3 ) and immortal music (5).

About the series
‘Coleccion Capricho’

Each biography is approximately 100 pages long and the people covered are:

  • S. Teresa de Jesus (Saint Teresa of Ávila)
  • Ines de Castro, a 14th century queen consort of Portugal
  • Jorge Sand (George Sand)
  • Maria Curie (Marie Curie)
  • Juana de Arco (Joan of Arc)

Like the philosophical books, Pensées de Marc-Auréle and Pensées Philosophiques Nombres de Oro: Mujeres Célebres also has highly illustrated cloth covers and end papers. However unlike the others the cover shows light damage. The spine is the most damaged as when an item is standing upright this part faces the light and the colours on the covers fade. The front cover is less damaged and so the colours are less faded. Only the back cover shows the true brightness and richness of the colours. Special Collections’ storage spaces closed to the public are normally kept in darkness to ensure that bindings, photographs and other media used in library and archival documents do not deteriorate.

Spine of book
Back of book
Back of book

Unlike the outside of the miniature book, the inside shows no deterioration. The endpapers are a beautiful rich green, gold and cream. The volume has headbands and a book mark attached to the head of the volume. The book has a catalogued stamp in purple/blue ink and a date stamp of 26 August 1955.

Provenance markings

Opposite this page is the series title page with handwriting in a different hand “R-19-5-’51.” This handwriting corresponds to a note opposite the first page of the entry on S. Teresa de Jesus “To my friend, Sr. Buckley in memory of my visit to Madrid, May 1951. J. Duckett.”

Note from J Duckett to Sr. Buckley

Cataloguing Find – Teresina Flynn

Following on from the miniature book finds in Special Collections, we in Cataloguing also came across something interesting. It is called a CoasterBookTM   and on first sight it looks like something you would pick up in a gift shop.  The pages are coaster sized and perforated, ready to tear out and put under a coffee mug.

Coaster Spine
The World’s Shortest Stories

First impressions do not do justice to this little gem called The World’s Shortest Stories produced by Running Press Book Publishers in 1998. The CoasterBookTM has six double-sided coaster sized pages. The concept is simple and very effective, a short story on every page (sorry, coaster), each story just 55 words long.  The restriction to 55 words, has resulted in pithy stories, most words chosen with care, some words I think might have been used in order to fill up the quota. The resulting stories of horror, murder, love and suspense are ingenious and fun.

The CoasterBookTM concept was created by a Tony Dierekins  in 1995, twenty one years before Twitter, and interestingly the inside board states that “this book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form or by any means….or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter invented, without written permission from the publisher,” truly a man and a publishing house well ahead of their time!


The CoasterBookTM is a companion book to The World’s Shortest Stories compiled and edited by Steve Moss with illustrations by Glen Starkey. This book also contains stories 55 words long but contains 224 pages and is 22cm in height.

Teresina Flynn

Further Information 

Vávrová, Petra et al., “Damage to Paper Due to Visible Light Irradiation and Post-Radiation Effects after Two Years of Storage in Darkness.” In New Approaches to Book and Paper Conservation‑Restoration. Ed. Patricia Engel et al. Wien/Horn: Verlag Berger, 2011. 169 – 182.


Moss, Steve, compl. & ed. The World’s Shortest Stories. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1998. 9 x 9cm

Nombres de Oro: Mujeres Célebres. Coleccion Miniatura E.C.A. Vol. 12. Madrid: Oficinas Libreria, n.d. 7.5 x 9.5cm

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