I love books. LOVE books.
That's why it would be my ultimate interior design dream to have a house that boasts its very own library. The old-fashioned kind. You know the thing.
Wooden book cases. Row after row after row of books. A mezzanine with even more of them. Big comfy seats to curl up in. With a book of course. An old writing desk. A globe or two. Not to mention a fireplace with a cat snoozing in front of it. Perfection. Oh and someone else to dust the place for me. Obviously.
In all, not entirely unlike these images.
But wait. Did you notice anything out of the ordinary about this particular library?
Have a look at the next picture and you'll see what I mean.
This, my friends, is the Bibliotheca Thurkowiana Minor or the Lesser Thürkow Library.
Make no mistake. This is not just a well-executed doll's house. This is an actual library. All the books you see are real. Miniature books that do not exceed the official standard of 76 millimetres (3 inches). There are about 2000 of them.
Husband and wife Guus and Luce Thürkow had been passionate about books for as long as they could remember. So much so that they made their profession out of them. They used to own a book antiquariat and publishing house The Catharijne Press. Their specialisation: miniature books.
It had always been the Thürkows' dream to have a library worthy of their collection of miniatures. And one day they just decided to make it happen. I like it when people do that. Could do with some more of that myself.
It took several craftsmen three years to build the library. It was modeled after some examples of 18th century libraries in private homes and after the old university library of Leiden. The attention to detail is stunning. As is the atmosphere it evokes. This isn't the largest collection of miniatures in the world. But it is definitely, beyond any doubt, the one most perfectly housed. And the envy of collectors the world over.
I was invited to the Thürkow home twice to admire the library. The second time I took my fellow book lover Fab along, as I knew this would thrill her too.
Even though I'd already seen it once before, I still couldn't help gasping as Guus proudly swung open the cabinet doors. And in spite of me knowing it was there (you're going to love this Linda), I almost squealed with delight when he once again opened the SECRET DOOR and showed us the hidden section. Housing the erotic works obviously. How utterly amazing and fabulous is that? I would almost want to shrink to miniature size myself (bit of a wish for me anyway) to take possession of the library. I'd hide my stash of forbidden choccies and biscuits behind the secret door of course.
I have to say though that no one took more delight in his library than Guus himself.
With reverend hands he would take out his most prized possessions, the unique items of which only one single specimen existed in the world, and tell their tales. The ancient seal. The clay tablet with the legal deed. The vellum pages with the most exquisite calligraphy. The books especially produced for the library.
It was Guus' dream to fill the Bibliotheca Thurkowiana Minor with only unique, one of a kind books. But he knew it wasn't going to happen in his life time, as Luce and he were only capable of having 6 of them produced and published a year. It is after all an expensive and very time-consuming thing.
Sadly Guus was right. He would not live to see his dream for the library fulfilled. He died earlier this year, after a short illness. And with him we have lost a most remarkable man.
Of course, he would say of himself: you have to be a bit mad to do this kind of thing you know!
Which ties in brilliantly with the patron of the library Luce and he chose:
Don Quichote de La Mancha.
Every time Don Quichote would storm off to fight his windmills, he would shout what is now the collection's motto:
Ellos son gigantes! They are giants!
Can you think of a more perfect motto for this most extraordinary library and its wonderful books?