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Curiosities and Miscellanea

Ranging from miniature books of art to miniature books that are art, this final theme includes curiosities, such as the smallest book in the Toth Collection (less than 5 mm!) and a book that functions as a brooch; and miscellaneous books, such as an early twentieth-century English-Yiddish pocket dictionary. This final theme demonstrates some of the breadth of the collection beyond the themes highlighted in this exhibition.

Liliput English-Yiddish Dictionary

This pocket dictionary may be small in size, but not in vocabulary, boasting 1,200 words, sample dialogues (“How old do you think my father is? He has turned sixty. He does not look his age”), and thematic vocabulary lists to aid in dining (entrées, drinks, sweets, and more). Printed in Germany between 1910 and 1929, this volume is bound in a brown leather snap case protecting the red publishers’ stains on the page edges. A bilingual pocket dictionary is useful as it can easily be carried and consulted, but also concealed and used discretely. The word choices in this dictionary appear to be aimed at aiding an individual in daily speech, conducting a conversation, and sharing meals. According to the Yiddish Book Center, there was also a Yiddish-English version published.

Zina Horowitz, English-Yiddish (Germany: Minkus Bros., c. 1910-29).
Toth Collection 10.C.13

The Lord’s Prayer Ultra-Microminiature

At less than 5 mm, this volume is the smallest in the Toth Collection and is technically an ultra-microminiature, the classification for books less than 1/4 inch (6 mm) in all dimensions. Published in 1952 by German publisher Waldmann & Pfitzner (and reprinted in the 1960s due to sheer popularity), this volume was sold with three others under the slogan “Die kleinsten Bücher der Welt” (The smallest books in the world) to raise money to rebuild the Gutenberg Museum after WWII. This minuscule volume includes the text of the Lord’s Prayer printed in six languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish, and Swedish. Bound in black leather and stamped with a gilt cross, The Lord’s Prayer is stored in an original transparent plexiglass case that doubles as a very strong magnifying glass, allowing one to actually read the text, which was not printed by photographic reduction but by actual miniaturized metal type.

The Lord’s Prayer (Munich: Waldmann & Pfitzner, 1952).
Toth Collection 10.A.25

Petites images d’après grandes peintures illustres

An accordion fold-out sheet allows this tiny volume to pack in great artistic appeal. It features two dozen nineteenth- and twentieth-century paintings by Hungarian artists from the Hungarian National Museum and the Treasury of Esztergom Cathedral, both in Budapest. The foreword describes the purpose of this book: not to replace the viewing of the original artworks, but rather to allow someone who has already seen the paintings to recall the visceral experience, or to inspire someone who has yet to see the artworks to see the originals. The copy featured here is the French translation of a Hungarian original (Kis képek nagy művekről), of which the Toth Collection boasts two copies. The collection also has a third item under the same Hungarian title which features paintings by European artists selected from the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts’ Ancient Gallery.

Béla Nemes, Petites images d’après grandes peintures illustres (Budapest: Édition de la Maison des beaux-arts, 1967).
Toth Collection 9.A.16
See also Toth Collection 9.A.17-19

Zsolnay

The Zsolnay factory, established in the Hungarian city of Pécs in the 1850s, is famous worldwide for its fine porcelain creations. It first garnered international fame after winning the 1878 World Fair Grand Prix in Paris. This mini book discusses the history of the Zsolnay company, factory, and contributing designers, with dozens of colour photographs of art pieces. This book is counted as a ‘curiosity’ because of the feature of a porcelain plaque adorning the cover. This is an English translation of an original Hungarian book; the Toth Collection also holds the Hungarian version.

Sikota Győző, Zsolnay (Budapest: Műszaki Könyvkiadó, 1989).
Toth Collection 1.D.32 (English)
See also Toth Collection 1.D.35 (Hungarian)

Cameo

Another example of an artists’ book, this time from Tony and Sandy Grace’s Twin Heart Press in San Diego, California. Sandy Grace wrote, designed, and bound this book, and Tony Grace operated the letterpress. The book itself is truly a work of art: shaped as a cameo brooch and featuring a pin adhered to the back allowing it to be worn as a brooch, with captions and illustrations in lavender. This book is also quite rare: this is one of only twenty-six copies printed, one for each letter of the alphabet. The Toth Collection’s copy is lettered ‘T’ – perhaps specifically chosen by Lilly Toth to match her last name.

Sandy Grace, Cameo: “A Pale Perfection” (San Diego, CA: Twin Heart Press, 1993).
Toth Collection 9.B.18

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