Jules Charbneau…still largest collector of tiny things
I have access to the full bound print collection of Hobbies; the magazine for collectors (published from 1931-1985) in my library, so expect to find all sorts of ads, articles and images from miniatures’ glorious past. I ran across this article about Jules Charbneau (1883-1968) who has always fascinated me. He amassed the largest known miniature collection but also had a large collection of miniature miniatures and before he died, he had over 30,000 miniatures miniatures.
Born in San Francisco, CA, Mr. Charbneau started collecting at the age of 8 and had a successful career as an art dealer, appraiser and designer. The collection was packed into two huge wooden chests and he toured widely with his wife giving talks and lectures on his unique collection. He enjoyed a career as an appraiser applying the wealth ever of information he’d gained in collecting miniatures and becoming knowledgeable on all antiques had made him an expert in appraisals.
He is also noteworthy having designed the gold World’s Fair souvenir coins starting with his design of the Alaska Gold souvenir medals for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. The coins became known as the Charbneau dollar and there are 13 varieties.
Some collection highlights:
1) Portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the head of a pin
2) Two miniature fishhooks, a gift from King Haakon of Norway
3) A bejeweled miniature casket, a gift from Queen Mary of England
4) The world’s smallest French pipe organ
5) Miniature Crown Staffordshire bone china
A Story about Little Things
Hobbies: the magazine for collectors.
Jules Charbneau’s world of miniatures
By Helen Cooke and Russell Maloney
The New Yorker, July 24, 1937
Discover the World of Charbneau So-Called Dollars
by Jeff Shevlin and William D. Hyder