News from the California Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena


by Donna LaVallee

Sharing a love of miniature books is so much FUN!! 

MBS had a table in the non-profit and community section of the California Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena in February. Pat Sweet and I staffed the table for 2 ½ days.  We had a full showcase of miniature books to display and a small handful for people to pick up and touch.  People would walk by, glance over at our table, stop and just look.  We would encourage them to come close: “you can’t see the tiny books from way over there!”  Faces lit up, friends and family were called over, questions were asked.  Everyone from long time antiquarian collectors to teens to 5-year olds were enchanted.  People stopped by multiple times.  Librarians couldn’t stay away.

In Pat Sweet’s words: “I'm just back from the ABAA in Pasadena, still exhilarated with meeting so many of my fellow miniature book fans, long-loved dealers and collectors, and kids (and adults) who just had all their shyness and world-weariness wiped away in an instant by looking at a miniature book they could pick up and play with. I heard, "I have a few miniature books, but didn't know anyone collected them.", " My mom left me a box-full and I never knew their history.", "How long have miniature books existed?" and my favorite, whispered to kids whose hands had turned into magnets, "Ask first." Yes, you can pick them up. Yes, you can play with them. A couple of kids were so transformed by the experience that I gave them the book that had captured them. The kids said thank you, not wanting to waste a second, but the real effect was on the parents, who on both occasions began to weep. If giving a child a book isn't a mitzva, what is?”

We promoted the Miniature Book Society, talked about our upcoming Conclave, encouraged everyone to stop at the booths of our member dealers, talked about how to find Book Arts programs to learn to make books, and how to start collecting books.  We talked about how to display, care for and sell miniature book collections.  We perhaps encouraged some with inherited collections to bring them out and appreciate them again.  

We gained some new members from the event, but more importantly we have new converts to the love of miniature books!  New people who want to know how to make and buy miniature books.  Now we as a society have to help them explore the world of miniature books.

Let’s keep the energy going. Start carrying a mini-book in your pocket – share it with everyone you meet.  If you find a new dealer in mini-books or a community center teaching Book Arts – please tell them about the Miniature Book Society.  

Maya Stein