Miniature Shakespeare Books from the Harner Collection

Apr 03, 2019 – Jan 05, 2020
Mon–Sat: 11am, 1pm, and 3pm | Sun: noon and 3pm

Take a free tour of the Founders' Room to see a rotating display of selected items from The James L. Harner Collection of Miniature Books Pertaining to Shakespeare.

Miniature Shakespeare books held on the palm of a hand

You don’t have to read these books to understand what makes them special. Their size delights the viewer and demonstrates skilled printing, binding, and artist’s work. The smallest item is a 14-millimeter printing of Act IV, Scene 1 from The Merchant of Venice. The tallest set—twelve volumes of an 1888 edition of Shakespeare’s Works—is housed in a carved, glass-fronted wood cabinet.

Harner’s collection comprises books crafted by individual artists or art collectives in limited editions as well as mass-printed books sold commercially with accompanying bookcases and boxes. Many items in the Harner collection are unique or known in only a few copies.

This exhibition is on display in the Founders' Room, which is accessible only by docent tour. These free tours do not require advance registration and are offered Monday through Saturday at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm, and on Sunday at noon and 3pm.
Check back regularly throughout 2019 to see the full breadth of this fantastic collection. 
Melissa Cook

Meet the Curator

Melissa Cook

Melissa Cook has served as the Acquisitions Librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library since 1994. As Head of Acquisitions, she is the main contact for gift offers of books, art, and manuscripts. Cook enjoys meeting with donors and learning about their collections, though she keeps her personal collection to less than ten books. This is supplemented by buying books for other people and visiting the excellent public library near her home.

Cook manages the Folger's annual Acquisitions Night. Participants are encouraged to explore new additions to the Folger collection and may have the opportunity to adopt materials for their preservation and conservation.