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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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19th C Canadiana Decorative Carved Pine Shelf
Dec 17, 1:00 PM EST
19th C Canadiana Decorative Carved Pine Shelf
by Kavanagh Auctions
Est: $50- $15,000
$501 Bid
Antique English Chinoiserie Bamboo Wall Shelf
Dec 17, 1:00 PM EST
Antique English Chinoiserie Bamboo Wall Shelf
by Kavanagh Auctions
Est: $50- $15,000
$501 Bid
Regency Mahogany Butler's Bureau-Bookcase, First Quarter 19th Century
Dec 09, 10:00 AM EST
Regency Mahogany Butler's Bureau-Bookcase, First Quarter 19th Century
by Weschler's
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5001 Bid
Nice antique mission oak 3 door bookcase
Dec 11, 12:00 PM EST
Nice antique mission oak 3 door bookcase
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $400- $800
$2001 Bid
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A Regency mahogany etagere, early 19th century
Dec 14, 10:00 AM PST
A Regency mahogany etagere, early 19th century
by Andrew Jones Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1401 Bid
Federal Style Satinwood Inlaid Mahogany Butler's Bureau-Bookcase, 19th Century
Dec 09, 10:00 AM EST
Federal Style Satinwood Inlaid Mahogany Butler's Bureau-Bookcase, 19th Century
by Weschler's
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5001 Bid
A pair of ebonised and gilt three-tier hanging wall shelves, late 19th century,
Dec 08, 10:00 AM GMT
A pair of ebonised and gilt three-tier hanging wall shelves, late 19th century,
by Cheffins
Est: £200- £400
£1600 Bids
LARGE 19TH-CENTURY WALNUT LIBRARY FLOOR BOOKCASE
Dec 07, 10:00 AM GMT
LARGE 19TH-CENTURY WALNUT LIBRARY FLOOR BOOKCASE
by Sheppards
Est: €2,500- €3,500
€1,5000 Bids
Antique walnut secretary bookcase
Dec 06, 11:30 PM EST
Antique walnut secretary bookcase
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $1,200- $1,500
$7500 Bids
FRENCH NAPOLEON III PERIOD SECRETAIRE BOOKCASE
Dec 11, 9:00 AM CST
FRENCH NAPOLEON III PERIOD SECRETAIRE BOOKCASE
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $400- $600
$3000 Bids
Edwardian Carved Rosewood Etagere
Dec 10, 10:00 AM EST
Edwardian Carved Rosewood Etagere
by Alex Cooper
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
A Regency Style Mahogany Secretary Bookcase
Dec 08, 10:00 AM EST
A Regency Style Mahogany Secretary Bookcase
by Hindman
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
19TH-CENTURY COROMANDEL BOOKSLIDE
Dec 07, 10:00 AM GMT
19TH-CENTURY COROMANDEL BOOKSLIDE
by Sheppards
Est: €100- €150
€600 Bids
A leather top oak revolving bookcase, Late 19th - Early 20th Century
Dec 19, 6:00 PM CET
A leather top oak revolving bookcase, Late 19th - Early 20th Century
by Bayeu Subastas
Est: €300- €400
€3000 Bids
A Victorian burr-walnut open bookshelf, Late 19th Century
Dec 19, 6:00 PM CET
A Victorian burr-walnut open bookshelf, Late 19th Century
by Bayeu Subastas
Est: €100- €150
€1000 Bids
Renaissance Revival Oak Carved Etagere
Dec 10, 10:00 AM EST
Renaissance Revival Oak Carved Etagere
by Alex Cooper
Est: $500- $700
$2500 Bids
Furniture : table Tilt-top central leg shelf in thuya burl 19th C
Dec 11, 1:30 PM CET
Furniture : table Tilt-top central leg shelf in thuya burl 19th C
by Monsantic.com
Est: €50- €100
€500 Bids
A pair of angled lacquered and gilt wood shelves, late 18th-early 19th century
Dec 13, 2:30 PM CET
A pair of angled lacquered and gilt wood shelves, late 18th-early 19th century
by Bolli & Romiti s.r.l
Est: €700- €900
€7000 Bids
Furniture : Bookcase in mahogany Empire style late 19th - early 20th C
Dec 11, 1:30 PM CET
Furniture : Bookcase in mahogany Empire style late 19th - early 20th C
by Monsantic.com
Est: €400- €600
€4000 Bids
Furniture : Bookcase in mahogany Empire style (lack) late 19th C outgoing columns
Dec 11, 1:30 PM CET
Furniture : Bookcase in mahogany Empire style (lack) late 19th C outgoing columns
by Monsantic.com
Est: €300- €400
€3000 Bids
Furniture : Bookcase in mahogany 1 glass door 19th C
Dec 11, 1:30 PM CET
Furniture : Bookcase in mahogany 1 glass door 19th C
by Monsantic.com
Est: €300- €400
€3000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Antique Shelves & Bookcases


Monsantic.com

Monsantic.com

Veilinghuis Van Spengen

Veilinghuis Van Spengen

DVC

DVC

Alex Cooper

Alex Cooper