Jewish Public Library presents

A Life in Miniatures: The Lily Toth Miniature Books Collection Launch

An only child living in Budapest during the war, Lilly Toth lost her family, and she hid with neighbours until they were denounced and forced to flee. She escaped an attempted execution on the shores of the Danube but as a strong swimmer, evaded pursuit and eventually reached a Jewish hospital. She survived the rest of the war hiding her Jewish background and worked as a cleaner at a building owned by the Arrow Cross, the fascist group allied with the Nazis.

When the Hungarian Revolution broke out, Lilly decided to flee Hungary. She arrived in Canada in January 1957, settling in Montreal, where she already had family.

On May 22, 2021, in her ninety-sixth year, Lilly died. She had no children. What she left behind though, was an extraordinary collection of 1119 miniature books.

Books have been created in miniature since the creation of writing, with the earliest miniature books (or mini books as they are sometimes known) dating around 2000 B.C.E. Up to three inches in size and often conceived of as aesthetic curiosities more than functional books, they were sometimes produced for convenience and discretion: Victorian women used miniature etiquette books to subtly ascertain information on polite behavior in society, others were used as talismans or amulets to ward off evil spirits.

The Lilly Toth Collection comprises an array of great literary works, religious texts, children’s literature, and many curiosities. An English-Yiddish dictionary printed in the early part of the 20th century, the Lord’s prayer printed in seven languages in ultra-microminiature, less than 5 mm (pictured), Hebrew prayer books, Christian devotional books, and an extensive collection of works in Hungarian.

The Jewish Public Library will launch the collection, and along with colleagues at the Montreal Holocaust Museum, honour the life and memory of Lilly Toth.

This free event is open to the public on Sunday, May 15th at 1:00 pm at the Gelber Centre (5151 Cote Ste Catherine).
Registration is required.

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