Bookends

Bookends, usually used in pairs, are supports placed at the end of a row of books to hold them upright. Utilitarian objects used in libraries and homes, bookends are also decorative pieces that add variety and personality to collectors’ bookshelves.

The history of bookends is directly tied to the history of widespread literacy and book collecting in the modern world. During the 17th century, people from varying socioeconomic backgrounds began reading more and purchasing books for private consumption. The surge in literacy was largely due to the invention of the printing press, which allowed books to be printed quickly and sold at affordable prices. As people began collecting books and stacking them vertically on bookshelves, the need arose to prevent them from falling over as books were removed for use. Bookends solved this problem. They also presented an opportunity to decorate avid readers’ collections of reading materials in creative and inventive ways.

Bookends can be made from almost any heavy stone or material, such as marble, bronze, or dense wood. They often illustrate miniature versions of famous works of art or stand on their own as priceless decorative objects.


Quick Facts

  • On November 6, 2013, Christie’s Amsterdam sold Juan Muñoz’s "Untitled (Bookends)" for $70,146
  • In 1877, William Stebbins Barnard patented the sheet metal bookend used to this day in libraries and large private collections around the world
  • The Gutenberg printing press was introduced around 1440, giving rise to widespread book collection and necessitating the use of bookends

Recommended Items at Auction

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Vintage Pair Gold Toned Brass Horse Bookends
Oct 20, 10:00 AM EDT
Vintage Pair Gold Toned Brass Horse Bookends
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc
Est: $50- $100
$63 Bids
Vintage Alchemists Skull Bookends
Oct 29, 5:00 PM EDT
Vintage Alchemists Skull Bookends
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$83 Bids
Pair of hand painted cast iron kangaroo form bookends
Oct 19, 7:00 PM AEDT
Pair of hand painted cast iron kangaroo form bookends
by Bargain Hunt Auctions
Est: AUD19- AUD0
AUD303 Bids
Pair JENFRED WARE Copper Toned Bookends
Oct 20, 10:00 AM EDT
Pair JENFRED WARE Copper Toned Bookends
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc
Est: $100- $200
$102 Bids
Pair Of Unusual Figural Bookends
Oct 21, 10:00 AM EDT
Pair Of Unusual Figural Bookends
by Berner's Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$112 Bids
ART DECO NUDE BOOKENDS
Oct 17, 12:00 PM EDT
ART DECO NUDE BOOKENDS
by Burchard Galleries Inc
Est: $300- $400
$2002 Bids
Pr. Vintage Ceramic Hand Painted Elephant Bookends
Oct 27, 12:00 PM EDT
Pr. Vintage Ceramic Hand Painted Elephant Bookends
by C Biddle Auction Gallery
Est: $10- $1,000
$101 Bid
Rookwood Pottery Panther Bookend
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Rookwood Pottery Panther Bookend
by Akiba Antiques
Est: $100- $1,000
$401 Bid
Jim Brockman Pair of Shoveler Bookends
Oct 17, 10:00 AM EDT
Jim Brockman Pair of Shoveler Bookends
by Auctioneers, Inc.
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Antique Cast Iron Native American Book Ends
Oct 20, 10:00 AM EDT
Antique Cast Iron Native American Book Ends
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc
Est: $70- $130
$11 Bid
Vintage Gargoyles Figural Bookends
Oct 29, 5:00 PM EDT
Vintage Gargoyles Figural Bookends
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$51 Bid
Pair 'The Puritan' Patinated Metal Bookends, H: 9-1/2 in
Oct 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Pair 'The Puritan' Patinated Metal Bookends, H: 9-1/2 in
by Weschler's
Est: $10- $20
$51 Bid
Vintage Medieval Weapons Bookends
Oct 29, 5:00 PM EDT
Vintage Medieval Weapons Bookends
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$51 Bid
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WILLIAM BOOGAR (1893-1958) Pair of Fox and Grapes Bookends, Early 20th c., Bronze
Oct 23, 1:00 PM EDT
WILLIAM BOOGAR (1893-1958) Pair of Fox and Grapes Bookends, Early 20th c., Bronze
by Bakker Auctions
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5001 Bid
Wayne Clements " days end' 2013 oil on board
Oct 24, 11:00 AM AEDT
Wayne Clements " days end' 2013 oil on board
by Kim's Auction
Est: AUD300- AUD500
AUD1751 Bid
Vintage Gargoyles The Bookworm Bookends
Oct 29, 5:00 PM EDT
Vintage Gargoyles The Bookworm Bookends
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$51 Bid
New Diamond Eagle Bookends
Oct 24, 12:00 PM EDT
New Diamond Eagle Bookends
by Main Auction Galleries
Est: $60- $150
$301 Bid
Collection to incl
Oct 19, 7:00 PM AEDT
Collection to incl
by Bargain Hunt Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD201 Bid
A Clarice Cliff teddy bear bookend,
Oct 19, 10:00 AM BST
A Clarice Cliff teddy bear bookend,
by Sworders
Est: £200- £300
£1600 Bids
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Collectible France Type Marble Book Ends
Oct 22, 11:00 AM PDT
Collectible France Type Marble Book Ends
by Wealthier Art & Auction
Est: $30- $40
$100 Bids
Lot of Brassware
Oct 20, 11:00 AM EDT
Lot of Brassware
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $50- $100
$100 Bids
Book Rack & Pair of Bookends
Oct 21, 12:00 PM EDT
Book Rack & Pair of Bookends
by Willow Auction House
Est: $80- $100
$400 Bids
Poliform - Italian Headboard and End Stand
Oct 16, 10:00 AM EDT
Poliform - Italian Headboard and End Stand
by Regency Auction House
Est: $500- $700
$2500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Bookends


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Mebane Antique Auction

Mebane Antique Auction

Historia Auktionshaus

Historia Auktionshaus

The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc

The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc