Light reading

Tiny books are a big deal in Academy Archives.

Jennifer Wagner
May 1, 2023

Measuring just 5 millimeters by 7 millimeters and weighing less than a gram, The Rose Garden of Omar Khayyam (pictured above) is the smallest book in the Class of 1945 Library’s vast collection. The volume’s crimson leather covers hold quatrains of lyric poetry about love, death and the afterlife — legible only with a magnifying glass. The book’s introduction states that the entire Rose Garden “could be covered by an ordinary U.S. postage stamp twice over.”

The hand-bound treasure was printed by Commonwealth Press in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was given to Exeter in 1936 by Frederick Vroom, brother of Davis Library Librarian Mildred Vroom. The Center for Archives and Special Collections currently houses 17 tiny books, including The Declaration of Independence, Paul Revere’s Ride: A Deposition and Henry David Thoreau’s Wild Apples: History of the Apple Tree.  

This story was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.