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The Vintage Bookcase: Your Home for Your Literary Treasures

Types of Furniture | 11.04.23 | Derek Brewster

Chances are, at some point, you’ve had a vintage bookcase in your home. But how much does the average person know about these timeless furniture pieces?

Before you rush out to find the perfect bookcase for your home library, make sure you’re aware of the different styles available.

Vintage bookcases have been around since the 16th century. They continually evolved, becoming the high-end used furniture pieces we know them to be today. You can find these pieces in a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles.

In this guide, we’ll break down some of the most common types of vintage bookcases and tell you why these antique furniture pieces make the perfect addition to your home.

Barrister Bookcases

First up, it’s the barrister bookcase. These vintage bookcases earned their name because of their ties to the legal world. In the chambers, barristers were tasked with carrying legal reference materials.

Barrister bookcases functioned as a portable bookcase option. The cases were sturdy and supportive enough to withstand the weight of the heavy law books.

These bookcases make a perfect choice for displaying a valuable book collection because they are self-contained units. They don’t have feet, making them easy to stack if necessary.

The pieces have sliding glass fronts. They often come with side brackets as well, which add detail to this vintage furniture piece.

Vintage Bookcase Cabinet

These high-end used furniture pieces serve a variety of purposes in the home.

They evolved from British breakfront cabinets. The design became popular during the 17th century. Early versions of the vintage bookcases often had double-cabinet designs.

Vintage Bookcase Secretary

The bookcase secretary is a timeless style, perfect for any home or office interior.

People know these antique furniture pieces for their versatility. They remained popular because of their practicality. The upper portion acts as a bookcase enclosed with doors, while the bottom opens up to serve as a writing desk.

Breakfront Cabinet

Craftsmen developed breakfront cabinets during the 18th century. People use them as large wooden bookcases to display books or dishes. Breakfront cabinets include a large center column that extends beyond the two end columns.

These vintage furniture pieces are similar to a hutch. The bookshelves are enclosed by glass doors on the top portion of the unit, and there are storage cabinets on the bottom.

Corner Bookcase

Those looking to store a personal library in a room with limited space may consider a classic corner bookcase. These bookcases slide easily into the corner of a room, taking up minimal space. They have large shelves capable of holding a sizable book collection.

While traditional corner bookcases come in solid wood materials, this classic style can be found in a variety of contemporary designs as well. They often have sleek, minimalist designs.

Empire Bookcase

Empire bookcases originated in the 19th century. People know these vintage furniture pieces for their bold look. Craftsmen often adorned them with elaborate, ornate designs.

These vintage bookcases later evolved in America with the addition of large paw-shaped feet. They also have large columns with deep shelves.

The design is perfect for holding a home library.

Music Cabinet

Those looking for a unique conversation piece may consider purchasing an antique music cabinet to store their books and documents.

These enclosed or partially enclosed cabinets were originally meant to hold folios of music notes, but have been adapted to store small books and magazines.

Some cabinets are short and minimalistic, while other music cabinets are a combination of spacious shelves, file drawers, and shuttered doors.

Open Vintage Bookcases

In the 17th century, people started using open bookcase designs. These open-face shelves allow for books to be horizontally or vertically placed. They were known for their smaller dimensions and ability to function in smaller spaces.

People often removed the supporting legs from the original versions of these vintage bookcases to accommodate the compact spaces they were in.

You can add them to the tops of writing desks to allow for additional storage space or place them in closets to hold books and other media. There are several creative ways to work open bookcases into your home decor with a touch of personality and design.

Victorian Bookcase

As you may have guessed, the Victorian bookcase originated towards the end of the 19th century and remained popular into the early 20th century.

These vintage furniture pieces took on bold designs. As a result, they are available in several styles.

Some of the bookcases are simplistic, while others are Renaissance and Gothic-inspired. They can be found with plain designs or ornate checks.

People know Victorian bookcases for their wide sections, which hold large book collections.

Small Vintage Bookcases

As book enthusiasts searched for solutions to accommodate their spaces, many moved towards small bookcases.

Small bookcases come in a variety of styles. They are usually simplistic. And they are perfect for minimalists looking to house a small home library.

These vintage bookcases are plain. They don’t have wood carvings or ornate details. But they serve a variety of purposes.

While using a small bookcase for your books may seem like an obvious choice, they have become a popular choice for storing shoes, kitchen accessories, and bathroom items.

Turn High End Used Furniture Into Beautiful Bookcases

Vintage bookcases come in all shapes and sizes. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be hard to choose the right style for your space.

By understanding the common vintage bookcase types available, you can choose a vintage furniture piece that is the perfect addition to your home.

If you have a space you would like to convert into a home library, our team can help you find the perfect storage solution. Get in touch with High End Used Furniture today. Let’s start shopping!

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