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Wigtown: Small World, Big Ambitions

This year Wigtown, Scotland's National Book Town, aims to be the home of the smallest and the largest book in the world. It is a unique ambition and it rivals Denver in the United States, currently holder of the largest book record, and Japan, currently challenging for the smallest book record.

But for Wigtown, records are not an idle boast; holding records is also about respecting quality. Gleniffer Press, run by Helen and Ian MacDonald, is on the outskirts of the idyllic Galloway Book Town. It is Gleniffer that hold the record for the world’s smallest book – an lithography printed edition of "Old King Coal" and the smallest letterpress printed book in the world, "Three Blind Mice".

Miniature books from Gleniffer PressGleniffer has been in the business of miniature books for 25 years and Ian MacDonald has some remarkable stories to tell.

"In 2000 we were the first Scottish publisher since Collins in the early 20th century to publish the Bible. Of course, it was in miniature. We also helped found the Miniature Book Society in 1983 which is holding its first English Convention in Bath this September. Glasgow hosted the Society Convention in 1990 when the city was honoured as European City of Culture."

Gleniffer are now approaching their 50th miniature publication. Each has its own ISBN number. Many furnish doll's houses. Dolls' house enthusiasts like to have miniature libraries containing complete and readable miniature versions of some of the world’s classic books, but many publications are simply treasured collectors' items. They are beautifully produced to exacting standards. However, Gleniffer are not solely specialists, they also want the public to enjoy printing and to enjoy miniature books from all over Europe.

Ian MacDonald working an Albion Press from 1859For the forthcoming International Book Towns' Festival and Book Fair, Helen and Ian MacDonald, alongside the Secretary of the German Miniature Book Society, will give a demonstration of printing and bookbinding in the Best of Galloway marquee in the centre of the town between 21 – 23 May.

With a portable press, children and enthusiastic adults alike will be able to print their own Gleniffer Press cards on technology that changed the history of Europe in centuries past before the advent of the computer.

At the same time, in the County Buildings, there will be the Miniature Book Society's European Exhibition of over 100 miniature books from around Europe, all contained in a single showcase! This collection is currently based in York, England but spends much of its time in Berlin, Germany, so the exhibition represents a rare chance to see some of the most original and startling books in the world. It has never before been shown in Scotland!

Meanwhile, the attempt on the world record for the largest book ever produced continues...watch this space for more information.

Wigtown's International Book Town's Festival and Book Fair, assisted by Leader+ Dumfries and Galloway, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway, takes place between 21 – 23 May 2004.

Don’t miss it! - Click here for further information.

Date posted: 20/04/2004

 

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