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Selections from Special Collections: The Weird, Wonderful, and One of a Kind

The current exhibition showcases some favorites from the Special Collections staff.  Come see some wacky, unique and awe-inspiring art, books, prints and objects selected from the thousands of items in Special Collections that most people never see.  Curated by Adam Wallace, Julie Moore and Gregory Megee, this exhibition will feature a rotating set of selections over the course of the academic year.  Viewing hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Open to the public.  Everyone is welcome.

Featured Items

The Sanford Aday Collection


Sanford “Les” E. Aday, born in Oklahoma, established his home in Fresno, California, where he published numerous books from his location on Belmont Avenue.   Aday became interested in writing while in high school.  He wanted to pursue a career as a full-time writer, but was unable to support himself through writing alone, and held various jobs while working on his novels.  Aday reportedly wrote ten novels but only two were published, Amber Dust and Satan’s Harvest.

Aday began his career as a publisher presumably in 1955 (this is the earliest publication date in the collection).  He published three imprints: Fabian Books, Saber Books and Vega Books.  Aday published books that were often deemed “obscene” in the 1950s.  He was often under attack and vigorously fought against censorship.  He faced several charges in Hawaii, Arizona, Michigan, Texas and Fresno, California.  He was eventually tried and convicted along with associate Wallace de Ortega Maxey for shipping an obscene book into Michigan in 1963.  Sex Life of a Cop by Oscar Peck (1959) was the only book of seven deemed obscene by the jury.  He was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison and fined $25,000.  They were able to appeal to the Supreme Court and get the conviction overturned, though it took a number of years, and continued harassment by Fresno officials forced them to close shop.  Although the United States Constitution protects the right of an individual to freely publish and distribute material, it prohibits the circulation of obscene material through the mail.  

                  Sanford Aday

Miniature Books

What is a Miniature Book?

In the United States, a book is considered “miniature” if it is three inches or less in height or width; outside of the United States, a miniature book is four inches or less.  (In cataloging, we use millimeters to measure these miniature books. Three inches is approximately 76.2 millimeters.)
Miniature books are just like a regular book (with printing on pages, illustrations, and etc.), just in a very small scale.
Readers have enjoyed miniature books for centuries. Tiny Sumerian clay tablets with cuneiform writing have been found, dating back to ca. 2500 B.C.  Miniature books appeared in Europe during the Middle Ages. Among the earliest known miniature printed book with moveable type is the Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis printed by Nicholos Jenson in 1475. While miniature books are published in all topics, many miniature books are religious in nature. Miniature books continue to be created through present day.
Why Miniature Books?
·        They were easily carried (or concealed).
·        They represent the finest of craftsmanship in printing, illustrating, and binding due to the small scale.
·        Sometimes these miniature books are considered to be artist’s books, due to the illustrations and creative binding. Many are works of art.
·        They are surely the cutest books in our collection!

Examples of miniature books in the Special Collections Research Center: 

The Holy Bible.
Dayton, Ohio : National Cash Register Co., 1962?
This is actually a micro-miniature example of The Holy Bible on microfiche. It can be read with a microscope with 100X or more power.
California: A Bibliography of its Miniature Books by Francis J. Weber.
San Buenaventura Calif. : Junipero Serra Press, 1976.
78 mm.
Three hundred and fifty copies of this book were printed.
Issued in packet with label and author's logo printed on it ; bound in black leather with author and title stamped in gold.
The World’s Fair in a Nutshell.
Chicago : Gale Specialty Co., 1933.
Surely one of the most fun items in our collection is this 1933 Chicago World's Fair souvenir.  This is a miniature accordion book about the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, Ill.  There are tiny photographs, depicting buildings at the Fair, complete with descriptions.  This miniature book is encased in a real walnut shell.  There is even an attached tag with “To” and “From”, so the visitor could put postage on the tag and mail the nutshell book!

Andreas Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica (The Fabric of the Human Body)

Andreas Vesalius’s contributions to anatomy and physiology are so profound that critics believe “few disciplines are more surely based on the work of one man than is Anatomy on Vesalius.”


Born in Brussels and trained in anatomy at the University of Padua (where he would return to teach), Vesalius became the leading figure in the renewed practice of human dissection.  He produced two seminal texts, Tabulae sex (six plates, 1538) and De humani corporis fabrica (The Fabric of the Human Body, 1543).  De humani signaled a revolution, in that its plates offered the most accurate depictions of a human’s internal organs to date.  The power of the images came, in part, from using woodcuts, a process that allowed the greatest accuracy in reproduction.  The greatest power, however, came from Vesalius’s commitment to witness firsthand actual human organs, a practice that had been prohibited in much of Europe prior to 1482.

Vesalius foregrounded the importance of “ocular evidence,” and his publications represent the first original monograph in any discipline to be based so closely on empirical observation.  As a result, his major work, De humani, revealed the most accurate account of human anatomy ever published and established the standard methodology by which dissection and anatomy would be practiced until the modern era.





Adam Wallace is the Special Collections and Archives Specialist.

Adam has chosen to highlight the Sanford Aday Collection.


Julie Moore is the Special Collections Catalog Librarian

The pieces Julie has chosen as her favorite items from the Special Collections Research Center collection for this exhibition are examples of miniature and small books.  She has a personal passion for miniatures (yes, as in dollhouse miniatures, which she has enjoyed since childhood), and professionally, she enjoys working with miniature books.

Gregory Megee is the Special Collections & Archives Assistant.

A trained historian with a love of early modern European history, and a life-long bibliophile, some of the items closest to Gregory’s heart in the Special Collections Research Center are the rare books from the 15th and 16th centuries.

Gregory has chosen to highlight the classic 16th century work of anatomy De humani corporis fabrica (The Fabric of the Human Body) by Andreas Vesalius.