Pocket books: small volumes in the Shaw Collection

Today we are celebrating John MacKay Shaw on the anniversary of his death in 1984. Shaw (1897-1984) was a Scottish-born American businessman and philanthropist who collected works of British and American poetry related to the theme of childhood. 

When talking about the Shaw collection, we often highlight the 5,000 first and rare editions of major poets, Victorian gift books, and children’s periodicals contained within. Today, I will be featuring my personal favorite section of the collection: small books!

Our first featured small book is Puppy Tails (ca. 1900) by Cecil Aldin and Richard Waylett. This little book recounts the adventures of a nosy puppy who can’t seem to mind his own business. The book is 13cm tall and very, very cute.

The next book is Edward Lear’s Miniature Books (1935). This 10 x 13cm box contains five mini-volumes of Lear’s nonsense poems, illustrated by Leslie Brooke.

The pièce de résistance of today’s post comes in the form of The Infant’s Library (ca. 1800). This sweet collection of 16 miniature books is housed in its own painted bookcase and was created by the London bookseller and publisher, John Marshall. The collection was conceived as a way of “helping children to learn by reading these books to their dolls” (The British Library). Each book contains engraved illustrations and cover a wide range of topics from birds to buildings to the history of Great Britain.

If you would like to view more selections from the Shaw Collection, be sure to check out the FSU Digital Library!

Published by Hannah Wiatt Davis

Hannah Wiatt Davis is the Preservation Librarian at FSU Special Collections & Archives.

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