Verbum Sempiternum. The Third Edition, [sic] With Amendments. London: Printed for Tho. James…, 1701.
Biblia, or, A Practical Summary of ye Old & New Testaments. Lond.: Printed for R. Wilkin, 1728.
Bible du Petit Poucet, Ornée de 30 Jolies Figures. Paris: Saintin, [ ca. 1800?]
of Western Europe and America
Miniature editions of the Bible and Thumb Bibles form genres of their own
among miniature books. The two differ in that miniature Bibles contain all or
selections from one of the standard versions of the Bible. Separate psalters
were also popular. Thumb Bibles, on the other hand, are paraphrases prepared
chiefly for children. Notable among early printed miniature Bibles is the
1628/1629 Novum Testamentum Graecum of Jean Jannon, printed in la
petite sédanoise, miniature Greek type of exceptional beauty. Thumb Bibles
saw their earliest progenitors at the beginning of the seventeenth century in
John Weever's An Agnus Dei (1601) and John Taylor's Verbum
Sempiternum and Salvator Mundi (1614). Epitomes of the story of
the Bible were intended to provide early religious instruction for children
not yet thought old enough to address the Bible itself. John Taylor states,
as reprinted in the earliest known American Thumb Bible (1765), "With care
and pains out of the Sacred book, / This little Abstract for thee have took:
/ And with great reverence have I cull'd from thence, / All things that are of
Greatest consequence." Of the earlier English Thumb Bibles, one of the most
familiar and often encountered is The Bible in Miniature, or a Concise
History of the Old and New Testaments, printed for E. Newbery in 1780. It
is often found bound in red morocco, gilt, with "IHS" stamped in gilt on an
oval black leather onlay at the center of each cover.
The little volumes were also popular on the continent, appearing in German
under titles such as Biblia oder Inhalt und Kern gantzer h. Schrifft,
and Dutch as Biblia ofte Inhoud en Kern der gantschen H. Schrift. French
versions include the Sommaire de la Bible, and possibly the first usage
of the word for "thumb" in connection with Thumb Bibles, Bible du Petit
Poucet published in Paris circa 1800.
A common feature of Thumb Bibles is illustration, which varies from crude
woodcuts to elegant engravings. In some, the emphasis on illustration went so
far that they became miniature picture Bibles, such as Dess Alten [-Neuen]
Testaments Mittler engraved by the sisters Christiana and Magdalena Küslin,
German artists who worked in Switzerland.