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As a child, Lilly Toth loved watching soccer games. This love of sports is perhaps represented in her miniature book collection, which features a number of books about Hungarian sports champions, several of which were published in the 1970s by Budapest press Sportpropaganda. Whereas many Hungarian miniatures were printed in small print runs numbered in only the dozens or perhaps hundreds, many sports-related books were printed instead in the thousands.

Sport became increasingly important to Hungary, as it did in many communist countries, after World War II, leading to the state-sponsored centralization of sports and a deemphasis on professionalized sporting opportunities. Producing athletes of Olympic and European Championship caliber led to Hungarian athletes regularly outperforming athletes from more resourced countries, a fact noted in several of the multilingual introductions to the volumes highlighted below.

Athéntől Münchenig

A small history of Hungarian participation in the Olympic games from Athens (1896) to Munich (1972), this miniature book includes a list of medal winners in various competitions as well as tri-colour printings of Olympic logos and memorabilia for the games. This is an unnumbered edition of 4,000 copies printed.

Athén München 1896-1972 (Budapest: Sportpropaganda, 1972).
Toth Collection 1.B.1

Olimpiai győzteseink

This trilingual miniature lists individual and team gold medal winners on behalf of Hungary in the Olympic Games between 1896 and 1972, with pictures of some of the country’s most celebrated athletes. Issued in two sizes, the Toth Collections boasts the rarer and smaller of the books, at just 30 mm tall, bound in white leather, and printed in a batch of 1,000. The foreword of this book, written by International Olympic Committee member Dr. Árpád Csanádi, clearly demonstrates the pride the Hungarian people held for their sport champions.

Endre Kahlich, Olimpiai győzteseink = Our Olympic Champions = Unsere Olympia Siegers (Budapest: Sportpropaganda, 1974).
Toth Collection 10.C.6


This mini highlights all 325 Hungarian athletes who had won a total of 300 championships for Hungary at European Championships by the date of publication (1975), listed by date and location of the competitions. Of 1,000 numbered copies, the Toth Collection copy is number 0454.

The highlighted photo is of Judit Magos-Havas (1951-2018), a table tennis player. Magos-Havas won eleven medals, including six gold medals, at the Table Tennis European Championships between 1972 and 1978 and was named Hungarian Sportswoman of the year in 1978.

Endre Kahlich, Európa-bajnokaink = Our European Champions = Unsere Europameister (Budapest: Sportpropaganda, 1975).
Toth Collection 1.A.11

Olimpiai bajnokaink

Similar in content to Olimpiai győzteseink but published two years later, this 1976 miniature organizes Hungarian Olympic wins by sport rather than by athlete. Each sport is represented by a small blue and white graphic preceding the list of champions, such as this graphic representing the pentathlon, an event that combines fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, pistol shooting, and cross country running. According to the Hungarian bookseller Antikvárium, there were 14,300 copies issued of this miniature book.

Endre Kahlich, Olimpiai bajnokaink = Our Olympic Champions = Unsere Olympiameister (Budapest: Sportpropaganda), 1976).
Toth Collection 1.B.8

Hetvenöt év – száz aranyérem

Whereas the previous books focused on Hungarian athletes and sports more generally, this small volume focuses on one particular sport in which Hungarian athletes excelled: table tennis. It includes small biographies of many of Hungary’s best table tennis players, including Viktor Barna (1912-1972), pictured in action here, who won the World Championship five times. As H. Roy Evans, the President of the International Tables Tennis Federation, wrote in the foreword: “I can confess that it was always enthralling to see that a small country like Hungary could […] always be there among the best” (p. 8). Of 5,000 total copies printed of this book, 500 are numbered; this book is number 127.

Mihály Kozák, Hetvenöt év – száz aranyérem (Budapest: Sportpropaganda, 1977).
Toth Collection 1.A.5

Szilvia Perényi and Ilona Bodnár, “Sport Clubs in Hungary,” in Sport Clubs in Europe: A Cross-National Comparative Perspective, ed. Christoph Breuer, Remco Hoekman, Siegried Nagel, and Harold van der Werff (Cham: Springer, 2015), 221-47.

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