The James L. Harner Collection of Miniature Books Pertaining to Shakespeare

The James L. Harner Collection of Miniature Books Pertaining to Shakespeare

You don’t have to read these books to understand what makes them special. Their size delights the viewer and demonstrates skilled printing, binding, and artist’s work. The smallest item is a 14-millimeter printing of Act IV, Scene 1 from The Merchant of Venice. The tallest set—twelve volumes of an 1888 edition of Shakespeare’s Works—is housed in a carved, glass-fronted wood cabinet.

Harner’s collection comprises books crafted by individual artists or art collectives in limited editions as well as mass-printed books sold commercially with accompanying bookcases and boxes. Many items in the Harner collection are unique or known in only a few copies.

This exhibition is on display in the Founders' Room, which is accessible only by docent tour. These free tours do not require advance registration and are offered Monday through Saturday at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm, and on Sunday at noon and 3pm.

Meet the Curator

Melissa Cook served as the Acquisitions Librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library 1994 - 2019. As Head of Acquisitions, she was the main contact for gift offers of books, art, and manuscripts. While at the Folger, Cook enjoyed meeting with donors and learning about their collections. Though she kept her personal collection to less than ten books, it was supplemented by buying books for other people and visiting the excellent public library near her home.

Cook managed the Folger's annual Acquisitions Night. Participants are encouraged to explore new additions to the Folger collection and may have the opportunity to adopt materials for their preservation and conservation.

April 3 - June 30, 2019


  • Snapped travelling leather case and bindings (F 270498)
  • Huet collection very miniature set in Rosewood case (F 270410)
  • Rotating mahogany bookcase (F 270399)

July 1 - August 29, 2019

Interesting Owners

  • Johnny Cash’s set of the Ellen Terry edition of Shakespeare (Har.128)

August 30 - September 30 2019

Interesting Owners continued

  • Grandmother Stover's dollhouse miniature (Har.377)
  • Volume presented by H.R.H The Duchess of Albany, to Mabel I Hawkes at the Annual Essay Prize Distribution, held at the Crystal Palace, May 8th, 1909 (Har.164)

October 1 - October 31, 2019

Artist Books

  • Hamlet Skull (Har.203)
  • Pribikova Romeo and Juliet with dagger (Har.286)

November 1 - December 3, 2019

Artist Books continued

  • Hamlet: moving moments in the play by Maryline Poole Adams (Har.39) 
  • Shakespeare's harvest compiled by Jan Kellett (Har.256)

December 4, 2019 - January 4, 2020

Artist Books continued

  • Sonnets = Sonety / by William Shakespeare. Omsk: 1999.  (Har.207)
  • Players in Shakespeare. 2000. (Har.225)