A series of miniature “London Almanacks” was produced by the Company of Stationers between 1690 and 1885. They were favorite Christmas gifts that could be purchased at stationers shops. From the mid-18th century, they might also be distributed by various merchants to favorite customers in appreciation of their business. They were very popular with ladies, and it is likely that dress makers, milliners, etc. gave them away as Christmas novelties. Because the materials used might include gilt-tooled leather, Venetian bindings, hand-painted silk, and marbleized or hand-colored end papers, these miniature books were luxury items.
The most common sizes for these tiny almanacs were 1⅛” square, and 1⅛” x 2 ¼”. They were most often presented in protective slipcovers of tooled leather, painted silk, shagreen, or other material. In the early 19th century, a wallet style with self-latching bindings also became popular, almost always in red leather.
The format of the almanack was almost always the same: a title page showing the arms of the City of London ringed with the title and date, and an explanation of the contents (which also shows a red tax stamp until 1834); a multi-paged, and sometimes folding, engraved plate of a London landmark (but not in the tiniest-sized almanacks); “Common Notes” listing the dates for such days as Easter Sunday, Whit Sunday, Advent, etc.; one page per month listing moon phases, festival days, quarter days, etc.; a table of Kings and Queens of England; a listing of Lord Mayors and Sheriffs of London; a list of holidays; a page of current coinage or other currency information.