March 2020 presents my one-year anniversary as a miniature book collector. As a writer, it appalls me a little (pun intended) that I didn’t learn about miniature books until just a year ago. But as a long-time lover of miniatures as well as an author, as soon as I learned of miniature books, I glommed on to them. It’s logical, right? But what I did not anticipate is the tension between considering miniature books as objects to look at (and fondle) versus as bearers of texts to read (as books).
Because I’m a writer, I decided from the beginning to take the library versus collection approach, that is, I would choose books that I could actually envision being in my personal library (regardless of the size of the book). This placed some limits in my collecting approach. I don’t, for example, collect miniature journals or books with blank pages—many of these objects are collected for the beauty of their bindings but I require interior material that can be read (while one can “read” a blank page, one blank page is like another so I couldn’t see myself collecting books of blank pages). But, today, I made an exception—I acquired several blank journals made by Sasha Mosolov.
I’m not sure I would have made this exception were the book artist not this native Muscovite who received a Book Arts degree from the Moscow Institute of Graphic Arts. Let me quote from his bio at the American Binders Museum where I discovered him: “Sasha Mosolov … began a bookmaking career as an edition binder at a time when much—perhaps most—literature in the Soviet Union was banned. Mosolov bound photocopies of forbidden texts–Freud and Jung, religious texts, and anti-Soviet literature—in small-run editions. Because bookbinding materials were difficult to come by except through official channels, he developed techniques using cloth, paste paper, and cardboard to create his editions. These techniques became the basis for his unique works, bound in dyed-and-painted leather on which Mosalov fashions textured, raised images. The endpapers are handmade collage designs, and the pages are hand-sewn.”
I love the idea of this underground book binder, as much as I appreciate the beauty of his work. I’m fortunate that many of his keychain-books fit the size constraints of miniature books. I did also acquire a huge tome by him as contrast. I present photos below—you’ll note that the endpapers are also handmade collages. I think a book artist who created books from banned texts should find a home in my modest Miniature Book Collection. Welcome Sasha Mosolov!
The keychain books are sized at 2.75" x 3-18".