One of the more prolific and successful publishers of such books, Bryce’s venture, as both printer and promoter of the form, was awarded a whole chapter of its own in Louis W Bondy’s invaluable history of Miniature Books, first issued in 1981.
The treasures offered together as part of a Bonhams Knightsbridge (27.5/26/20/14.5% buyer’s premium) sale on November 9, which sold at £65,000, ranged from miniature Korans and Bibles to the works of Shakespeare, and even offered no fewer than three copies of the tiniest volume he ever produced.
This was a 1911 edition of Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard that is considerably less than an inch tall and was at one time said by doubters, or perhaps those who had failed to secure a copy, to be a volume that did not exist at all.
Dictionaries, poetry and other literary favourites, some housed in their original, even revolving tiny bookcases, were all part of this extraordinary lot.
Other highlights of the auction included, at £32,000, one of 500 copies of an 1893, Kelmscott Press edition of The Poems of William Shakespeare that boasted a stunning jewelled binding by Sangorski & Sutcliffe.
Sold at £25,000 was an enormous collection of letters, photos, publications and research material assembled by PN Furbank in preparing his widely acclaimed 1970s biography of his friend, EM Forster.