By Beth Farwell, Interim Director for Central Libraries
Meet Spencer Drango. A rare and extremely talented individual who graciously took time off from the offensive line on Baylor’s football team to meet up with a different kind of rare Baylor lineup.
The definition of rare: exceptional, extraordinary, singular.
As #58, Mr. Drango’s 2015 year is exceptional. Currently he is a candidate for All-American, the Outland Trophy, the Rotary Lombardi Award, and the Wuerffel Trophy. In October, 2015 he was chosen as one of 12 finalists for the 2015 William V. Campbell Trophy which annually recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation. He is a returning All-American and two-time first-team All-Big 12 honoree listed as the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle by Lindy’s and Big 12’s “Top NFL Prospect” by Sporting News.
Just as impressive is his work off the field and classroom. In May, 2015, Mr. Drango traveled to Brazil for a mission trip. He is the president of BU’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes, which is an organization that raises research dollars for rare diseases. Mr. Drango has participated in Baylor’s ‘Feed My Starving Children’ initiative in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
Impressed? Standing tall at 6-6 and weighing in at 320, who better than Mr. Drango to introduce you to Baylor Libraries' impressive line of rare miniature books!
Meet "Dew Drops". Standing not quite as tall at 6 cm. (2.3 inches) and weighing in at, … well, not too much. This juvenile devotional calendar was published in the early 1800s by the American Track Society in New York.
Miniature books are books that are no larger than 3” in any measurement, although the Library of Congress classifies miniature books as books less than 4” in any measurement.
Miniature books are like any other book on the inside, just printed on a smaller scale. Printings are usually limited to a small run, so these are uniquely rare due to scarcity and additional labor necessary to create these tiny treasures.
Next on the line is one of our older miniatures, a book of psalms dated 1629. “The whole booke of Psalmes; collected into English meter by Tho. Sternold, I. Hopkins, and others.” Standing taller at 8 cm. (3.1 inches) this volume was published in London and printed for the Company of Stationers.
Miniatures can be traced back to ancient days with scrolls. One of the earliest known printed miniature books was from 1468, titled “Dirunale Moguntinum” at 65x94mm. Guttenberg’s apprentice and successor, Peter Sheffer, had printed this book in small gothic script. Only fragments of this book are left and can be found at the Paris National Library.
Baylor is fortunate to own a wonderful example of a “Thumb Bible”. See picture at the top of this page. “Verbum sempiternum” published in London by Longman and Co. in 1849, printed by C. Whittingham. This volume is 55 mm. (2.1 inches) and contains 288 pages. This is the 3rd edition and is a facsimile (exact copy) of an imprint dated October 6, 1693. This is not the whole bible, but a paraphrase of the old and new testaments in verse. This miniature is in good condition with a clasp that is still intact.
Our next on the line is a tiny book of poems written in 1899."Poesie di Giacomo Leopardi" was published in Florence and is 7 cm. tall (2.7 inches).
Our final rare book "lineman" stands tall at 5.7cm (2.3 inches). The “London almanac for the year of Christ 1794” was printed for the Company of Stationers in 1793. This tiny volume contains a full year’s almanac and shows changes of the moon, days of the month, Saints days, time of high water at London Bridge, a table of “Kings & Queens reigns", list of "Lord mayors and sheriffs from the year 1773 to the year 1794", list of “holidays kept at the Exchequer, Bank, Stamp and Excise Offices... in 1794" and a section describing “the current coins".
Rare: exceptional, extraordinary, singular. True for both Spencer Drango and Baylor Libraries' miniatures. Whether big or little, Baylor is proud of these extraordinary talents and creations! Sic ‘em!
To see these treasures in person and for more information, please visit our webpage: https://www.baylor.edu/lib/centralspecialcollections/.
I am so grateful to Spencer for taking time out during a very busy fall schedule. Many thanks to Baylor Athletics, Baylor Development, Carlye Thornton (photographer) and Baylor Libraries for making this “meet” possible.