Monday, 12 September 2011

The most amazing library in the world

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?

Pictures not taken by me but found here and here


  1. Oh my goodness.... that is utterly amazing! What a feat of construction and creativity. And, what a wonderful man Guus sounds like... wish I could have met him like you did.

    And, you are SO right! A SECRET DOOR! One of my dreams come true. I'd give just about anything to live in a house with a secret door.

    Have you read the children's book Inkheart? It reminds me of the house the old aunt lived in that just had books crammed everywhere, wall to wall, and one special gorgeous room just for the most precious books.


    I LOVE books... libraries... secret worlds within.... places you can create in your mind.

    Where would we be without books and the amazing people who create them and nurture them.

    And those miniature books - serious case of the 'wants' there. As you said, very 'Gollumish!'.

    Linda. xox

  2. This is really amazing. And I am with Linda, the secret door is my favorite part!! I am an avid book reader and I love miniatures so this was the perfect post for me too.
    And yes, I have eight cats. And I share the feeding of other eight. And when they all want to be pet at the same time it's's like 'look at me mommy, look at me!'. I live attached to my vacuum, but apart from that it's a fun life with my furry babies.
    Thanks for the birthday wishes, they're always appreciated, late or not.

  3. Girls, I'm telling you, the photos really don't do it justice, it is really the most amazing thing.

    And the books, OMG, the BOOKS! Such wonderful little gems among them. Some with hand-painted images in them. I could just spend hours staring at the library, and studying all of those books.

    And I hear ya re the secret door - I've got to have me one of those - sooner rather than later! YES, it made me think of Inkheart too! And what about the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter?



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