Revealed: Te Papa's tiniest, smelliest and oldest books

One of the smallest books in Te Papa's collection.
One of the smallest books in Te Papa's collection. Photo credit: Te Papa

Te Papa Museum has given a glimpse into its rare book collection and shown off the smallest, oldest, smelliest and heaviest tomes.

Research librarian Martin Lewis, who goes by the Twitter handle @RareBookGuy, has written a blog detailing the rare books in the collection. 

The heaviest book, The Vatican Frescoes of Michelangelo, weighs a massive 23.5kgs and is filled with photographs of the famous artist's works. It's a "mega-book", that contains four books inside.

Revealed: Te Papa's tiniest, smelliest and oldest books
Photo credit: Te Papa

The smallest books, Lilliput Maori Place Names and Lilliput Maori Proverbs, can fit in the palm of a hand. The books are even illustrated with tiny intricate drawings alongside the place names and proverbs.

Revealed: Te Papa's tiniest, smelliest and oldest books
Photo credit: Te Papa

The oldest set of books were published between 1600 and 1750. Mr Lewis says his favourite is a history book about Queen Elizabeth 1, which was published in 1630, 27 years after she passed away. It's survived a fire during its long life. 

Revealed: Te Papa's tiniest, smelliest and oldest books
Photo credit: Te Papa

Mr Lewis says the smelliest book is an old leather thesaurus, and he often discusses on tours that the process of it being created would have been very stinky, as animal skins were immersed in a urine solution allowing for the removal of rotten fat and hair.

Revealed: Te Papa's tiniest, smelliest and oldest books
Photo credit: Te Papa

For more details, read Mr Lewis' full post on Te Papa's blog.

Newshub.