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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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Carved Stone Book Ends 8"
Feb 26, 6:00 PM EST
Carved Stone Book Ends 8"
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$1613 Bids
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Vintage Brass & Copper Armillary Sphere Bookends, Austria, 1960s
Mar 10, 1:00 PM PST
Vintage Brass & Copper Armillary Sphere Bookends, Austria, 1960s
by Pasadena Antique Warehouse
Est: $60- $100
$11010 Bids
Piero Fornasetti Brick Facade Bookends, Pair
Mar 03, 12:00 PM EST
Piero Fornasetti Brick Facade Bookends, Pair
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $600- $800
$2005 Bids
WILKERSEN UNICORN GREEN URANIUM GLASS BOOKENDS VINTAGE ANTIQUE
Feb 26, 1:00 PM CST
WILKERSEN UNICORN GREEN URANIUM GLASS BOOKENDS VINTAGE ANTIQUE
by Col. Christie Hatman, Auctioneer
Est: $0- $0
$405 Bids
The Lion Of Lucerne Bookends
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
The Lion Of Lucerne Bookends
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $25- $250
$1254 Bids
PAIR OF ROOKWOOD ART POTTERY BOOKENDS
Feb 25, 12:00 PM EST
PAIR OF ROOKWOOD ART POTTERY BOOKENDS
by John McInnis Auctioneers
Est: $100- $200
$1254 Bids
Van den Meersche Gustaaf - Book ends (1927)
Mar 02, 1:00 PM CET
Van den Meersche Gustaaf - Book ends (1927)
by De Vuyst
Est: €800- €1,200
€1,3003 Bids
Four pairs of brass bookends
Feb 28, 10:00 AM PST
Four pairs of brass bookends
by Andrew Jones Auctions
Est: $80- $120
$1003 Bids
Pair of Gregory Allen Indian Chief Bronze Bookends
Feb 25, 1:30 PM EST
Pair of Gregory Allen Indian Chief Bronze Bookends
by Napoleon's Fine Art
Est: $150- $300
$1503 Bids
Pair of Carved Teak Elephant Form Bookends, H: 7 in. (17.8 cm.)
Feb 27, 10:00 AM EST
Pair of Carved Teak Elephant Form Bookends, H: 7 in. (17.8 cm.)
by Weschler's
Est: $50- $100
$503 Bids
DONALD STARK PAIR OF BRONZE BOOKENDS
Feb 27, 6:00 PM PST
DONALD STARK PAIR OF BRONZE BOOKENDS
by O'Gallerie
Est: $150- $200
$1003 Bids
Franz Hagenauer Brass Schnauzer Bookends, Pair
Mar 17, 12:00 PM EDT
Franz Hagenauer Brass Schnauzer Bookends, Pair
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $400- $600
$1002 Bids
Moroccan Orthocone Fossil Bookends
Mar 03, 9:00 AM MST
Moroccan Orthocone Fossil Bookends
by Davis Brothers Auction
Est: $50- $75
$102 Bids
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DECORATOR CAST IRON KOALA BOOKENDS
Feb 29, 9:00 AM AEST
DECORATOR CAST IRON KOALA BOOKENDS
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD10- AUD40
AUD302 Bids
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DECORATOR CAST IRON KANGAROO BOOKENDS
Feb 29, 9:00 AM AEST
DECORATOR CAST IRON KANGAROO BOOKENDS
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD10- AUD40
AUD302 Bids
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DECORATOR CAST IRON WHALE BOOKENDS
Feb 29, 9:00 AM AEST
DECORATOR CAST IRON WHALE BOOKENDS
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD10- AUD40
AUD202 Bids
5 sets of book ends w/ Indian motif
Mar 16, 10:00 AM EDT
5 sets of book ends w/ Indian motif
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$201 Bid
3 sets of book ends, 1 single book end
Mar 16, 10:00 AM EDT
3 sets of book ends, 1 single book end
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$201 Bid
THE THINKER METAL BOOKENDS
Mar 01, 12:00 PM EST
THE THINKER METAL BOOKENDS
by Converse Auctions
Est: $20- $40
$101 Bid
Timothy Richards, pair architectural bookends
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
Timothy Richards, pair architectural bookends
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid
(2 Pc) 19th Century Betjemann's Self Closing Pietra Dura Bookends
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
(2 Pc) 19th Century Betjemann's Self Closing Pietra Dura Bookends
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $50- $500
$251 Bid
Set of Near Match Lion Bookends
Mar 05, 12:00 PM EST
Set of Near Match Lion Bookends
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
1930S FRENCH BRONZE BOOK ENDS BY MAX LE VERRIER
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
1930S FRENCH BRONZE BOOK ENDS BY MAX LE VERRIER
by Antique Arena Inc
Est: $100- $150
$501 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Bookends


Albion Antique Auction Centre

Albion Antique Auction Centre

Weatherham Estate Treasures

Weatherham Estate Treasures

Auctions at Showplace

Auctions at Showplace