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Emmett D. Chisum Special Collections: Canoso Miniature Books

About the Michael Canoso Miniature Book Collection

The Michael Canoso Miniature Book Collection was donated in 2007 by Michael Canoso. It includes books smaller than 3 inches by 3 inches as well as a selection of artists' books, some pieces of which date from as early as 1830. A variety of subjects are represented from rock art to botanical specimens. Cataloged items can be browsed online by completing a keyword search for "Canoso Miniature Book."

Search the library catalog for Canoso miniature books.

Book Arts

"Artists' books are books or book-like objects over the final appearance of which an artista has had a high degree of control; when the books is intended as a work of art itself."

--Stephen Bury
Artists' Books: The Book as a Work of Art, 1963-1995
Scholar Press, 1995


Artists' books are defined as works of art realized in the form of a book. Artists' books may be published in limited editions or as one-of-a-kind objects (known as "uniques") in a variety of forms including scrolls, fold-outs, pop-ups, concertinas, or loose items contained in some form of a box, as well as bound printed sheets. Artists have been active in printing and book production for centuries, but the artists' book is primarily a late 20th century form.

Miniature Books

What is a miniature book?

We follow the Library of Congress’s definition of a miniature book which includes those books 10 cm or less in height. Mr. Canoso’s collection includes some items over 10 cm. All those 10 cm and under have the subject heading “Miniature books—Specimens."

Fun Library Fact-to accommodate some of the larger items in Mr. Canoso's collection we created a miniature book portfolio section. 

What are the smallest books in the collection?
The smallest book in the world = Das kleinste Buch der Welt (an alphabet book; 3 mm) 

Eight immortals of the wine cup (poem in English and Chinese; 4 mm)

Herzlichen Glückwunsch zur Vermählung (marriage advice in German; 5 mm)

Serments d'amour (“I love you” in several languages; 7 mm)

Lord’s prayer (in seven languages; 7 mm)

What are the oldest books in the collection?
Some books lack a publication date.  The oldest with known publication dates are:

1831:  The Psalms of David, imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship / by Isaac Watts
1834:  The child's Bible, with plates / by a Lady of Cincinnati.
1835:  Paradise Lost / by John Milton

How many publishers and countries are represented in the collection?
The books have come from over 340 different publishers (some lack publication information) in at least 23 countries.

What languages are the books in?
Most are in English; other languages include: Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Middle English, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Maori, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. One book contains a single Bible verse translated into 267 languages. 

What are the books about?
Subject matter is very wide ranging. Some of the more common topics are alphabet books, papermaking, poetry, fairy tales, works by Shakespeare, and, of course, miniature books.

How does our collection compare to other miniature book libraries?
Two of the larger collections I’m aware of: Indiana University—Bloomington’s Lilly Library has 16,000 and the University of Virginia has over 13,000.

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