20 Apr 2021
September 17, 2009 - Filed under: Antique Bookcases — Richard

Greek patterned Corinthian uprights, open shelves, panelled cupboards, often beautiful details of moulded egg and dart cornicing, set with lattice glass doors; the traditional breakfront antique bookcase where the central two doors come forward, give this majestic piece of furniture a 3D effect and the whole is set off on a plinth base.

Highly prized George III examples dating from around 1770 were often decorated by mirroring mahogany flame veneers on the lower drawers and cupboards to create stunning designs. Instead of a cupboard or drawer, some were built with integrated secretaires with all the accoutrements including pigeonholes, small drawers and cupboards. The cornicings could have palmetto motifs and acanthus leaves to recreate the classical architectural qualities of the piece. Others were plainer built purely of pine, or veneered in walnut. They were usually built in two, three and four sections depending on the size of the piece. Many of these earlier antique bookcases were designed for libraries and were heavily influenced by the designs of Thomas Sheraton from his Cabinet Maker and Upholsterers Drawing Book of 1794.

There are also highly prized American New England examples from the early 19th century, almost exclusively built in Salem, Massachusetts by John Townsend, which reach phenomenal prices at auction. These styles of antique bookcase still remain fashionable for the American home market and were being reproduced through the 1930s to the1950s and into modern day. Popular modern examples are often made of cherry, oak or fruitwoods, where others are heavily influenced by the Orient, and decorated with black lacquer and heavily appliquéd in mother of pearl.

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