Bibliotheca Thurkowiana Minor

 As book binder/restorer ánd passionate miniaturist I was thrilled to read the Bibliotheca Thurkowiana Minor is kept safe and intact. Because last week, on April the 13th it has passed on to become part of the collection of the Museum Meermanno in Den Hage, The Netherlands.

There it will be open for the public to visit (limited so see their website for opening hours etc.) as was the wish of the collectors them selfs; Guus and Luce Thurkow. Guus unfortunately died but his labour of love has been given the respect it deserves and is saved for future generations, instead of being sold off and scattered around the globe.

pictures courtesy of Ed Schilders


Museum Meermanno, Den Hage, The Netherlands.
TIP: if you can spare the time (12 minutes) watch They Are Giants, a documentary or short movie about Guus and his library, made by Koert Davidse in 2010. With English subtitles. 
Boekendingen; An article on this unique miniature library. 
The links are in Dutch so below is the translation of the press release as seen on the website of Museum Meermanno.

Friday April 13, the transfer took place of an important new addition to Meermanno Museum | House of the book: the Bibliotheca Thurkowiana Minor, a very attractive miniature library founded by Guus and Luce Thurkow. The library contains 1515 books and miniatures, and is a supplement to the book collection of special forms of the museum and of course a phenomenon in itself.It was the wish of Guus Thurkow (1942-2011) and the museum that the miniature library would be shown to the public and would be preserved for future generations. With the generous support of Fonds 1818 and the Friends of the museum is now realized.

From 1984 to 2003 Luce and Guus Thurkow run, under the name 'The Catharijne Press' an antiquarian bookselling and publishing company of miniature books. On 1 January 2001 they decided to build a library of miniature books on the example of famous 17th-and 18th-century Dutch dolls. Based on the maximum size of a miniature book of 3 inches or 76 mm size was chosen as a scale of 1 to 4.With the cooperation of various specialists, this Bibliotheca Thurkowiana Minor already completed within a year. 

The library consists of twenty bookcases with six shelves and is further equipped with an earth and a celestial globe, a desk and chair for the librarian, a book staircase and a statue of Don Quixote, the patron of the library.The collection is divided into sections such as classical and Naturalis Historia Musica, and a few more modern category Photographia. The department Erotica is obviously hidden behind a secret entrance.Both the content and appearance of the book is very diverse: from Preacher to the small insects book by Godfried Bomans and pocket book to leporello, a modern folded book. The oldest object in the collection is a clay tablet from 1803 BC. Of these, 59 unique books: works printed in an edition of only one copy and some manuscripts. Many of these are specially made for this library, including a xylothek (collection of wood samples) and a miniature wax, including stylus. 

All these works are brought together under the motto of the library, a phrase from Cervantes 'Don Quixote' Ellos son gigantes "(" They are giants).

This miniature library is temporarily restricted. Every Wednesday at 13.00 a museum employee opens the closet and shows several examples of miniature books.For more information and photos:Aafke Boerma,, 0031623637101Museum Meermanno | House of the bookPrinsessegracht 30, 2514 AP The Haguewww.meermanno.nlOpen: Tues / Sun from 12.00-17.00 hrs 


  1. Wow! How absolutely wonderful! Beautiful Dutch cupboard with gorgeous interior. And those books!
    I watched the film, loved it. I like the calm pace at which the story is told. Beautiful shots of the library. The 'NRC' on the desk made me smile. I don't know who built it, but it is so well made.
    The story really touched me emotionally. When watching him work I get the urge to do that myself as well. I hope to be able to see this beautiful piece at the museum soon.
    Thank you for sharing this Debora!

    1. smiled too, when the newspaper came into the shot. I love the still and serene atmosphere of his little (and tidy) workspace, with the carillon in the background. The movie maker captured that in a calm pace, very well indeed.

      When being active as a graphic designer i fell in love with bookbinding and as I always had a special interest in small things, so were mini books. I knew his publishing company as a specialist in miniatures, but i sort of left touch. I'm also familiar with the technique, and know it's very hard to replicate it in -let's say- 1:4, let alone 1:12. I've tired but in my humble opinion it's almost undoable. Cos you know I'm not a fan of imitating, but a great admirer of literally scaling down. That's why I had to post about him & his collection. The movie shows he's a purist in that sense too (cutting down a miss of Don Quichot :O

  2. Hello Debora,
    Thank you for putting up these links. I think that library cabinet is one of the most spectacular miniatures I've seen.
    All the best,

    1. I just had to share it with you all, it's so unique!!
      Glad to hear you like it, if you ever come over too Europe, these are the gems to look for.
      ps I send you a mail

  3. Replies
    1. I'm never jealous bout objects, but I envy the Man's work. Glad you like it too ;)

  4. I love to see things like this displayed for everyone to see. I think society has an obligation to preserve such works of art. =0)

  5. This reminds me of the Book Store display from the Mott's Miniatures Museum. It hasn't been seen by the public in decades.

  6. This is spectacular. Thanks for posting. I hope I can see it in person some day!


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