Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Multum in Parvo Library: "Book of Brief Narratives" (1894)

Believe it or not, this is only the second-smallest book that I've featured here. The smallest was Warren's Pocket History of Winchester, which is just two inches wide.

Book of Brief Narratives is a chapbook that is slightly larger than a standard baseball card. It measures 2⅞ inches wide. Its 16 pages are bound with a single staple.

The book is part of the Multum in Parvo Library1 and was published in December 1894 by A.B. Courtney of Boston. It billed itself on the cover as "Smallest Magazine in the World. Subscription price, 60 cts. per year. Single copies, 5 cents each."

1894 was the first year of publication for the Multum in Parvo Library. The tiny books were published through at least September 1898, when Volume 5, No. 57 — How to Join the U. S. Army — was issued. Some of the other titles included:

  • How to Get Rich
  • Book of Detective Stories
  • The Unique Story Book
  • Gay Life in Paris
  • Secrets for Women Only
  • How to Hypnotize
  • Mormonism Exposed: By a Mormon Slave Wife
  • The Secrets of the Harem
  • Guide to Fortune-Telling by Dreams
  • Art of Love-Making

Book of Brief Narratives crams six stories and roughly 4,100 words into its 15 pages of text.

The tales are all, according to Page 2, "Detective Stories From the Diary of a New York Detective." They are edited by Frank Pemmon.

The titles of the tales are "A Chance Meeting," "How Was She Killed?," "It Was Not Murder," "A Freight Car Adventure," "Two Ghosts," and "He Addressed the Jury."

If you're interested in reading more about miniature books, here's a PDF documenting the incredible collection that was put together by the late Donn W. Sanford. Fair warning: Once you start reading that, you could lose an hour before you even know it.

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Note: If you're scoring at home, this is Papergreat's 1,200th post.

1. Multum in Parvo is a Latin phrase that translates to "much in little."

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