Friendship (The Miniature Series)

by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Published by Nimmo, Hay and Mitchell, circa 1900
Book dimensions: H 92 x W 75 x D 18mm
Box dimensions: H 50 x W 120 x D 120 mm
Sample board #73
Bound in 2024
Made for the Designer Bookbinders “Unique” Exhibition

About the book:

This miniature book contains the poetic essay on Friendship by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson, who went by his middle name Waldo, was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist, and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. “Friendship” is an essay that was first published in 1841 and is considered one of his most important works, being widely regarded as a seminal text on the topic of friendship.

In this work, Emerson reflects on the nature of friendship and its role in human life. He argues that true friendship is based on mutual respect and understanding, and is characterised by a deep and genuine affection between individuals. He also notes that friendship is not just a matter of finding someone with similar interests, but rather it involves a spiritual connection and a recognition of the other person’s essential qualities. Emerson goes on to argue that friendship can be a source of profound joy and fulfilment, and can provide individuals with a sense of meaning and purpose. He concludes by stating that, while it is difficult to find true friends, the effort is well worth it, as friendship is one of the most valuable and enriching experiences of life.

About the binding:

  • A full leather stub binding bound in purple goatskin on the spine.
  • Semi-transparent goat vellum covers the boards and doublures.
  • The original gilt edge of the book is retained.
  • The endpapers are made from vintage floral paper printed in gold.
  • The stubs are folded from pink Satogami paper
  • The spine is patterned with leather onlays which are then embellished with embroidery threads .
  • The covers and the doublures are patterned using embroidery threads.
  • The book is housed in a wooden container with a sliding lid.

Design Description

I asked my close friends and family to select quotes or sayings about friendship that they liked or had a personal connection to. I requested they write the quote in their own handwriting and send it to me. I used these quotes to decorate the vellum covers and doublures of the book, with some placed in the base of the box too.

All of the quotes are in English with the exception of one German phrase on the front cover and doublure:

  • „Bleib so, wie Du bist!“, meaning “Stay just as you are.”, or “You’re perfect just as you are, don’t change.”

The others are as follows, the front cover:

  • “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark than alone in the light.”
  • “ Good friends are like stars, you don’t have to see them to know they are there.”
  • “ It is when we are most lost that we sometimes find our truest friends.”
  • “A friend is someone who makes it easy to believe in yourself.”

The back cover:

  • “Friendship is another word for love.”
  • “Words are easy, like the wind; faithful friends are hard to find.”
  • “You have been my friend. That in itself in a TREMENDOUS thing!”
  • “Friendship is a sheltering tree.”
  • “Friendship is the only flower that blooms in all seasons.”

The box interior:

  • “Love is like the wild rose-briar, Friendship like the holly-tree—, The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms, But which will bloom most constantly?”
  • “No friendship is an accident.”
  • “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

You can read about how this binding and box were made by visiting the blog section of my website here.

Here’s a little video of the completed binding…

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