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Antique Shelves & Bookcases

Early clay and stone tablets, along with later scrolls and papyrus rolls, were kept in some kind of order by the ancients. Once the bound manuscript was invented, volumes decorated with jewels, thick covers, and metal mountings resembling shackles were stored in trunks or chained to the desks of the monks who watched over them. These inconvenient methods for storing books, along with the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, gave rise to the development of bookshelves.

With developing technology for affordable book manufacturing came access to affordable bookshelves. Antique bookcases developed in several styles. The low bookcase created by French designer Charles Andre Boule was popular after 1700. Within the next century, hundreds of models of both low horizontal and tall enclosed bookcases were available. By the 18th century, the secretary combined a desk with shelving for books.

Antique bookshelves are now prized both for their form and function. They can sell for thousands at auction, particularly those from the 19th and 20th century Arts and Crafts movement.


Quick Facts

  • A triple-door miter mullion antique bookcase by Arts and Crafts designer Gustav Stickley recently sold for $35,000 at a Craftsman auction
  • A George II mahogany desk and bookcase sold for $13,750 at a Sotheby’s New York auction in 2015
  • A George III mahogany breakfront bookcase sold for $16,250 at Sotheby’s in 2015

Recommended Items at Auction

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Antique American Oak 6 Stack Barrister Bookcase
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Antique American Oak 6 Stack Barrister Bookcase
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$2105 Bids
Antique American Arts And Crafts Mission Oak Book Shelf
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Antique American Arts And Crafts Mission Oak Book Shelf
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$552 Bids
EARLY 19TH C. STANDING DISPLAY SHELF.
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
EARLY 19TH C. STANDING DISPLAY SHELF.
by William Smith Auctions
Est: $600- $900
$3002 Bids
19TH C ENGLISH WALNUT BOOKCASE
Mar 12, 11:15 AM EDT
19TH C ENGLISH WALNUT BOOKCASE
by Ashcroft and Moore
Est: $1,000- $10,000
$1001 Bid
George III mahogany open bookcase
Mar 08, 10:00 AM EST
George III mahogany open bookcase
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $200- $300
$1001 Bid
MOBILE
Mar 06, 10:30 AM CET
MOBILE
by Aste Boetto SRL
Est: €300- €350
€3001 Bid
Antique Ornate Carved Wall Shelf
Mar 05, 12:00 PM EST
Antique Ornate Carved Wall Shelf
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $50- $100
$301 Bid
Early English Georgian Mahogany Secretary Bookcase
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Early English Georgian Mahogany Secretary Bookcase
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$501 Bid
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Antique Chippendale Style Mahogany Bookcase.
Mar 10, 10:00 AM EST
Antique Chippendale Style Mahogany Bookcase.
by Clarke Auction Gallery
Est: $600- $900
$3000 Bids
Libreria a due ante - Two-door bookcase
Mar 15, 6:30 PM CET
Libreria a due ante - Two-door bookcase
by Galleria Sarno
Est: €400- €500
€2000 Bids
MOBILE
Mar 07, 10:30 AM CET
MOBILE
by Aste Boetto SRL
Est: €200- €250
€2000 Bids
18TH C. MAHOGANY WHALE’S TAIL WALL SHELF.
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
18TH C. MAHOGANY WHALE’S TAIL WALL SHELF.
by William Smith Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
A REGENCY MAHOGANY CABINET BOOKCASE, CIRCA 1815
Mar 06, 10:30 AM GMT
A REGENCY MAHOGANY CABINET BOOKCASE, CIRCA 1815
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £600- £800
£6000 Bids
A VICTORIAN OAK LIBRARY BOOKCASE IN GOTHIC REVIVAL TASTE, SECOND HALF 19TH CENTURY
Mar 06, 10:30 AM GMT
A VICTORIAN OAK LIBRARY BOOKCASE IN GOTHIC REVIVAL TASTE, SECOND HALF 19TH CENTURY
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £6,000- £8,000
£6,0000 Bids
A REGENCY MAHOGANY BREAKFRONT OPEN BOOKCASE, CIRCA 1820
Mar 05, 10:30 AM GMT
A REGENCY MAHOGANY BREAKFRONT OPEN BOOKCASE, CIRCA 1820
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £2,000- £3,000
£2,0000 Bids
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY CABINET BOOKCASE, MID 18TH CENTURY
Mar 05, 10:30 AM GMT
A GEORGE II MAHOGANY CABINET BOOKCASE, MID 18TH CENTURY
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £4,000- £6,000
£4,0000 Bids
A VICTORIAN SATINWOOD AND PARCEL GILT BOOKCASEBY HOLLAND & SONS, 19TH CENTURY
Mar 06, 10:30 AM GMT
A VICTORIAN SATINWOOD AND PARCEL GILT BOOKCASEBY HOLLAND & SONS, 19TH CENTURY
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £800- £1,200
£8000 Bids
A GEORGE II OAK AND PINE BOOKCASE, CIRCA 1750
Mar 06, 10:30 AM GMT
A GEORGE II OAK AND PINE BOOKCASE, CIRCA 1750
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £600- £800
£6000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Antique Shelves & Bookcases


Hindman

Hindman

Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales

Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales

Galleria Sarno

Galleria Sarno

Sworders

Sworders