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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 Empire Tiger Oak Bookcase
Jun 01, 10:00 AM MST
Antique American Empire Tiger Oak Bookcase
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$506 Bids
LACQUERED WOOD BOOKCASE, 17TH CENTURY STYLE, EARLY 20TH CENTURY
May 30, 3:00 PM CEST
LACQUERED WOOD BOOKCASE, 17TH CENTURY STYLE, EARLY 20TH CENTURY
by Casa d'Aste Babuino
Est: €800- €1,200
€7003 Bids
Antique Eastlake Victorian Secretary Desk Bookcase
May 31, 1:00 PM EDT
Antique Eastlake Victorian Secretary Desk Bookcase
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$501 Bid
Walnut Victorian Cylinder Roll Secretary Desk Bookcase
May 31, 1:00 PM EDT
Walnut Victorian Cylinder Roll Secretary Desk Bookcase
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$501 Bid
ANTIQUE FRENCH GOTHIC CABINET BOOKCASE
May 29, 11:00 AM EDT
ANTIQUE FRENCH GOTHIC CABINET BOOKCASE
by Intervendue
Est: $5,800- $8,000
$8000 Bids
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A. E. Mørck (XIXe-20th c.) Shelf
May 30, 5:00 PM CEST
A. E. Mørck (XIXe-20th c.) Shelf
by Piasa
Est: €2,500- €3,500
€2,4000 Bids
Antique burled walnut cylinder roll desk with bookcase bop
Jun 02, 12:00 PM EDT
Antique burled walnut cylinder roll desk with bookcase bop
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $100- $300
$500 Bids
German display case with deer antlers, Rampendhal
May 31, 3:00 PM CEST
German display case with deer antlers, Rampendhal
by Bertolami Fine Art s.r.l.
Est: €8,000- €12,000
€4,4000 Bids
19THC. WINDSOR HANGING SHELVES IN BLACK PAINT W/ YELLOW PIPING (32" X 28" X 14" )
Jun 02, 10:30 AM EDT
19THC. WINDSOR HANGING SHELVES IN BLACK PAINT W/ YELLOW PIPING (32" X 28" X 14" )
by Carlsen Gallery, Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
19THC. STAIR SHELVES (53" X 44" X 25")
Jun 02, 10:30 AM EDT
19THC. STAIR SHELVES (53" X 44" X 25")
by Carlsen Gallery, Inc.
Est: $300- $600
$1500 Bids
Antique mahogany etagere with beveled glass mirrors. 2 doors and 1 drawer. Spoon carved accents. Original finish.
Jun 02, 12:00 PM EDT
Antique mahogany etagere with beveled glass mirrors. 2 doors and 1 drawer. Spoon carved accents. Original finish.
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $300- $600
$1000 Bids
Beistell-Etagère
May 30, 9:00 AM CEST
Beistell-Etagère
by Auktionshaus Zofingen
Est: CHF240- CHF300
CHF2400 Bids
INGINOCCHIATOIO IN LEGNO E RADICA DI NOCE, XVIII SECOLO
May 29, 2:45 PM CEST
INGINOCCHIATOIO IN LEGNO E RADICA DI NOCE, XVIII SECOLO
by Wannenes Art Auctions
Est: €400- €600
€4000 Bids
19th Century Chinoiserie Secretary Bookcase
Jun 02, 11:00 AM EDT
19th Century Chinoiserie Secretary Bookcase
by Amero Auctions
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$7000 Bids
A stained hardwood and mother-of-pearl inlaid wall bracket,
Jun 11, 10:00 AM BST
A stained hardwood and mother-of-pearl inlaid wall bracket,
by Sworders
Est: £200- £400
£1600 Bids
French Louis Philippe bookcase in walnut
Jun 01, 10:00 AM EDT
French Louis Philippe bookcase in walnut
by King Galleries
Est: $1,800- $2,500
$1,0000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Antique Shelves & Bookcases


King Galleries

King Galleries

Sworders

Sworders

Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales

Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales

Adam's

Adam's