Miniature Book News #104: 2000 March Page: 1


Number 104 8 St. Andrews Dr., St. Louis, Mo. 63124 March, 2000

The largest auction of miniature books
ever sold took place at Christie's South
Kensington rooms in London on March
Over 4,000 books and manuscripts
dating from the 15th century to the
present day went under the hammer
in 314 separate lots. A lovely illustrated
catalogue was prepared, entitled:
The Irene Winterstein Collection of
Important Miniature Books.
The catalogue included a full page
photograph of Irene surrounded by
some of her books at her home in Zurich,
Switzerland. A short introduction
Irene Winterstein was born in 1925.
As a fifteen-year-old girl living
in the town of St. Gallen, Switzerland,
she bought her first small black
book (30 x 50mm.) which she used
as a diary. This modest purchase
became the foundation for one of
the most important and comprehensive
collections of miniature books ever
assembled. Ranging from the 15h
to 20th centuries, it includes
almanacks, children's books, Carnets
de bal, Bibles, Prayer Books,
illuminated manuscripts -and books
on every conceivable subject--often
contained within fragile original
boards or exquisite, jewel-like
Irene Winterstein was tireless in
her quest for miniature books, not
only in her home country, but across
Europe and beyond. When foreign
currency was unacceptable she would
barter with coffee and bed-linen
to secure a particular rarity.
In 1986 this unique collection, which
Christie's South Kensington is now
delighted to offer for sale at auction,
was justly honoured with the Norman

Forgue Award of the Miniature
Book Society.
A wide variety of books were offered:
literature in several languages, children's
books, travel, religious and art items.
A large group of German, French,
Austrian and American almanacs of
the 18th and 19th centuries, modern
private press books, and Hungarian
titles from the 1960s, 70s and 80s were
included. Some 250 Carnets de bal,
19th century dance programs, and
eight magnificent manuscripts, rounded
out this rare and unusual lifetime
Christie's in London has two sales
rooms: King Street in chic Mayfair,
and South Kensington in the tony
Kensington section. Goods (paintings,
furniture, jewelry, etc.) whose
estimated value approaches 10 to 15,000
pounds (sterling, not weight!) per lot
and above are auctioned at King Street
while lower priced items go to "South

Irene Winterstein

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Edison, Julian I. Miniature Book News #104: 2000 March, periodical, 2000; St. Louis, Missouri. ( accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library,; crediting UNT Libraries Rare Book and Texana Collections.