Queen Mary’s Dolls House Miniature

by Charlie Mackesy: 'The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse'
Illustrated by Charlie Mackesy
Book dimensions: H 45mm x W 60mm x D 12mm
Sample board #68
Bound in 2023
Royal Collection, Windsor Castle, UK

About the book:

2024 marks the 100th anniversary of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the largest and most famous Dolls’ House in the world, which has been on display for visitors to Windsor Castle since its creation.

The Dolls’ House was built between 1921 and 1924 as a gift from the nation to Queen Mary following the First World War. It is a perfect 1:12 scale replica of an Edwardian-style residence – complete with electricity, working lifts and running water – and is filled with contributions from over 1,500 of the finest artists, craftspeople, and manufacturers of the day.

One of the great treasures of the Dolls’ House is its Library, which captured the literary culture of the 1920s through miniature books handwritten by the era’s foremost writers, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Vita Sackville-West to A. A. Milne and Thomas Hardy. Now, in an anniversary initiative championed by Her Majesty The Queen, 20 tiny manuscripts have been penned and decorated by hand by leading writers and illustrators, to establish a Modern-Day Miniature Library, once again providing a snapshot of contemporary literature in Britain.

The new manuscripts range from short stories, poetry collections and illustrated tales to plays, articles and recipes, many inspired by the Dolls’ House or written specially for the occasion. Each manuscript, measuring just 4.5cm high, has been hand-bound with a unique cover by a leading designer-bookbinder. Each miniature cover is a work of art, with each binder taking inspiration from the contents of their book to create designs that range from gilded and traditional to whimsical and strikingly modern. The new books, which will become part of the Royal Collection, are now on display for visitors to Windsor Castle and can be seen throughout 2024.

Her Majesty The Queen has contributed her own miniature book to the collection: a handwritten introduction to the Modern-Day Miniature Library project. Bound in the Royal Bindery at Windsor Castle, the book features a gold-tooled miniature version of Her Majesty’s cypher measuring just 7mm tall. It was created using a specially made cypher tool, which was modelled on the tool used to apply Queen Mary’s 7mm-tall cypher to the original Dolls’ House Library books in the 1920s.

On Tuesday, 30 January, Her Majesty The Queen hosted a reception at Windsor Castle to thank the authors, illustrators and binders who contributed their work to the project. Her Majesty viewed the new miniature books and was shown her own hand-bound contribution for the first time, which was added to the display for visitors.

I was paired with Charlie Mackesy and bound his book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. Due to copyright reasons I am not able to share images of the binding publicly, however my work is currently on display at Windsor Castle for the duration of 2024.

About the binding:

  • A case binding with a false round spine binding, bound in dark blue goatskin on the spine with goats vellum on the boards.
  • The book has the footprints of four animals cut into the leather on the spine, backed with Moon gold.
  • The same footprints appear on the endpapers, cut into vellum.
  • The covers of the book are bound in goats vellum and intricately hand-embroidered.
  • Edge-to-edge leather doublures are applied in the same colour leather as the spine, with wording pierced out and backed with Moon gold.
  • The sections were sewn onto stubs folded into a concertina, patterned with splashes of acrylic paint.
  • The book is housed in a tulip wood box.

ALL IMAGES: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2024.

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