Miniature Book News # 81: 1994 June Page: 3
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Number 81 16 Dromara Rd., St. Louis, Mo. 63124 June, 1994
Ruth Adomeit writes the following
paragraphs to obtain more information
about the smallest mini-book produced
anywhere, up to 1932:
In 1900 Charles Meigs of Cleveland,
Ohio published the smallest book
in the world, the "Meigs" Rubaiyat,
which held that title until 1932.
57 copies were issued. When asked,
"why 57 copies?" Meigs is said to
have replied, "If 57 was good enough
for Heinz it is good enough for me."
When Meigs lost his own copy of
his tiny Rubaiyat, the Library of
Congress returned to him one of
the two copies he had sent them
for copyright purposes. It is not
known what became of Charles
Meigs' collection of miniature books
including this Rubaiyat at his death.
Where are the 57 copies today?
How many can be located? Do you
have a copy or does your favorite
library have one? Please let us
know as we would like as complete
a census as possible.
The News-Letters of the LXIVMOS
(NL) contains several articles about
Meigs' tiny Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
NL issue No. 17 (1929) even describes
how the volume was actually produced.
Meigs' opus measures 5/16 of an inch
square and contains 48 pages. It was
printed from 12 copper plates, 4 pages
to each plate, and 3 verses of the
poem to each page. The NL reports
that a large-type edition--"only eight
copies (now priceless!)" was printed
from special large type. The Newsletter
No. 17 continues:
This special type was square in shape, and
for a reason which will be mentioned a little
later. After the large-type impressions were
printed, a photographic reduction was made
- down to the vanishing point! And from
this photographic reduction the copper
electro-plates were finally accomplished,
after many, many failures. In making the
plates, the light had to be directed exactly
at right-angles through the screen, or the
resulting blur would obliterate several
words. Bill Nyl's famous fly, that insisted
on correcting his punctuation as he wrote
his manuscript, would have blotted out
word after word of this tiny Rubaiyat.
Now you will understand the reason for
the peculiar, square-shaped type selected
for making the "large type edition". The
purpose was to insure a uniform reduction
of the letters, in exact proportion, so that
no fine lines of the different characters
would disappear in the photographic reduction
necessary to make the copper plates.
When the twelve perfect plates were
finally produced, and experiments with ink
and paper were concluded, it was comparatively
easy to print the fifty-seven copies.
It was not so easy to bind them, but that
too was accomplished with the loss of only
Of the original edition, Mr. Meigs recalls
that Mr. Dole, Mr. Hay, Mr. Edwin Herron
Allen (London), Queen Elizabeth (Carmen
Silva) of Roumania, and others of the
elect and much beloved, received copies.
The twelve original plates were defaced to
prevent a second edition being printed, and
were then distributed among a favored few.
James D. Henderson, Scrivener of
the NL, like Adomeit, wondered aloud
about where the 57 copies scattered
to, and also asked readers to send
him further information. Alas, the
NL went out of business before any
responses to his call could be published.
A copy of the "Meigs" Rubaiyat did
surface at a Swann auction house sale
in 1990 and brought $2640.
Please write to us with information
about where these 57 copies are located.
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Edison, Julian I. Miniature Book News # 81: 1994 June, periodical, 1994; St. Louis, Missouri. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9417/m1/3/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Rare Book and Texana Collections.