The glass-fronted bookcase entered the English cabinetmakers' repertoire about the mid-17th century, and the bookcase in one form or another has been an indispensable part of the civilized person's home ever since.The 17th century bookcase tended to be a glazed cabinet from plinth to pediment, with square glass panes. The later Stuart period saw the introduction of the bureau bookcase or the secretaire bookcase, where the bookshelves were double-heightened above a desk or cupboard base. Early bureau bookcases often had mirror or blind-panelled door fronts, although these have frequently been replaced with clear glass panes. During the Regency period, the fashion arose for small cabinet bookcases, rarely more than three feet in height, which left the walls clear for hanging prints and pictures, known in the trade as a 'dwarf bookcase'. Such bookcases were sometimes open at the front, others had elegant brass-grille doors, backed by pleated silk. A bookcase without doors is known in the trade as an 'open bookcase'. The revolving bookcase was invented during the 18th century. more...Small enough to stand on the floor beside a chair, it was an ideal companion for the bookworm, and is still being made. A large number of these were made from the 1930s to the 1950s for sale with a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. However in the market place revolving bookcases are scarce.In Australia bookcases tended to follow the fashionable British designs. The finest examples were made in cedar, sometimes veneered with rarer native species. Others, towards the later part of the colonial period, were made of pine, frequently stained or varnished, and featuring the typical Edwardian machine carvings in the pediments and lower door panels.
Learn about Globe Wernicke
Stacking bookcases, also known as "barrister bookcases", were introduced in the early 20th century. They consisted of a series of glass fronted and almost dust proof cabinets each of which held one row of books, together with a cornice which was fitted to the top cabinet, and plinth which fitted underneath the bottom cabinet and finished off the bookcase. The number of cabinets could be varied depending on the customer's requirements, but most comprised between 3 and 6 cabinets. About 1900 there were over 20 companies producing stacking bookcases, but the largest and best known manufacturer was the Globe Wernicke Company, a United States company with factories in the US, Canada, Britain, France and Germany. Their book cabinets were produced to a standard length, with variable depths. A Globe Wernicke bookcase always carries the manufacturer's name, either on a paper label, an ivory coloured tag, a metal plate or a stamp on each sectional piece. The fashion for stackable bookcases only lasted about 30 years, and by the 1930s production and sales were in decline.
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