Small Talk / Miniature

All About Scale

Spinning Wheels

At The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, the little “m” in our logo stands for fine-scale miniatures. So, what is a fine-scale miniature? It’s a high quality, functioning object that is built to scale. Scale is the defined size ratio between the full size object and the miniature object. Most of the miniatures in T/m’s collection are 1:12 scale (or 1/12 scale) where one inch in the miniature equals one foot in the full-scale object.

The spinning wheel on the right is in the 1:12 scale. The one on the left is in the 1:6 scale where two inches in the miniature equals one foot in the full-scale object. Not only are we super impressed by the craftsmanship, but also by all the tricky math involved in creating these perfectly scaled masterpieces!

Come Mold The Menorah

Menorah Molds and Sketches

Between 1940 and 1947, silversmith William B. Meyers created two intricate menorahs. Lucky for us, his original plans and molds reside in The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures’s archives and give us insight into his process. Meyers started by sketching out his design.

Next, he created a model of the menorah from his sketches so he could construct a closed rubber mold. A closed mold has two halves that are pressed together. Molten metal is poured through a channel (located at the bottom of Meyers’s mold) to reach the mold cavity where the metal hardens. Once the menorah is removed from the mold, any excess metal would be filed away. We’re very fortunate that William B. Meyers left such a fantastic record of his process!

Seeing Double

Adoration of the Magi

In Kansas City, you can see the same painting in two different museums located only blocks apart. But, how could that be?! That’s because one is a miniature at The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures! Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel, an IGMA Fellow since 1989, added egg tempera painting to her repertoire after traveling and studying in Italy. She reproduces works of “The Old Masters,” such as Gherardo di Jacopo Starna, on tiny wooden panels. Adoration of the Magi can be seen in full-scale at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Art museums across the world feature masterpieces depicting the Adoration of the Magi, the name traditionally given to images of three kings, or wise men, visiting Jesus in the nativity after following a star to find him. The three magi, commonly considered to be Melchior (a Persian scholar), Caspar (an Indian scholar), and Balthazar (an Arabian scholar), bring Jesus gifts. They’re not at the top of our wish list, but they were ordinary offerings for a king: gold (a valuable metal), frankincense (used as a perfume), and myrrh (used as an anointing oil).

We Challenge You To A Duel!

Dueling Pistols

Rooted in the medieval code of chivalry, the practice of dueling to resolve a conflict or defend personal honor has been around for centuries. In America, we often hear about the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804. To keep the stakes even for both members of a duel, gun manufacturers began creating custom dueling pistol sets that included identical pistols.

This 1/12 scale miniature set by Eric Pearson reduces the size, but not the artistry. Nestled in a velvet-lined case, these pistols are so precisely calibrated that they are actually functional! That’s right, if you loaded these minuscule shooters with gun powder and a tiny musket ball, they would actually fire. Don’t worry, we haven’t tried it; we’re too nervous that mom’s premonition might come true: “you’ll shoot your eye out!

Come Light the Menorah

Menorahs, William B. Meyers, c. 1940-1947

Similar to Pete Acquisto, William B. Meyers was a renowned silversmith before becoming one of the preeminent miniature silversmiths of the first half of the twentieth century. He began making miniature silver in the late 1920s in addition to his full-time job as owner of William B. Meyers Company. Sadly, his miniature career ended abruptly in 1947 after the death of his wife Helen when he shifted to exclusively crafting religious sterling hollowware including Kiddush cups and menorahs still used by synagogues across the country.

Luckily for The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, Meyers crafted these two menorahs before ending his miniature career. Our menorahs are the seven-branched candelabrums used in the Jewish Temple to symbolize the seven days of Creation. Menorahs used to celebrate Hanukkah have nine branches. The eight candles in a row represent the eight nights of Hanukkah; the ninth candle set a little above the others, known as the shamash, lights the other candles.

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