This is the first in the Small Books of September series, highlighting miniature books in the Penn Libraries collection.
The experience of reading a book may often be said to be a reflective one, but seldom is the term “reflective” applied as literally to a book as it can be to the little 18th century volume shown in the image to the left bearing the title, Toujours de l’amour: Almanach nouveau sur les plus jolis airs (Penn Libraries PQ1989.J36 T68 1792). This tiny book, produced in the 1790’s in France, and only 3.75 inches high by 2.25 inches wide, has a small mirror attached to the inside of the front cover, which is lined in pink silk and trimmed with gold braid. The book is just the size of a make-up compact, and it is easy to imagine it serving the purpose of allowing an 18th century owner to discretely powder her nose, or perhaps to catch a reflected view of someone interesting in another part of the room without being too obvious. And, as you can see, this mirror reflects a sexy little image of a nude lady sitting on a stack of books while an elaborately dressed suitor bows before her, plumed hat in hand. Continue reading