11506 A REMARKABLE GEORGE III CUBAN MAHOGANY OPEN LIBRARY FOLIO CABINET COMBINING THREE ADJUSTABLE READING OR DISPLAY STANDS English. Circa 1800. Measurements: Closed: Width: 32 3/4″ (83.2 cm); Depth: 26 3/8″ (67 cm); Height: 55 3/8″ (140.6 cm). Maximum depth when open, approximately: 56″ (142 cm); Maximum height when open, approximately: 75″ (190.5 cm).
Of solid Cuban Mahogany. The rectangular ratcheted top with thumb molded edge rests upon an open structure fitted with two opposing ratchet reading stands and slides. The lower structure with open sides with two central divisions for the storage of folios. The whole resting upon four original square capped brass castors. Some minor old repairs.
The scale and complexity of this George III library cabinet has no known parallels in English Georgian furniture and was almost certainly designed for the requirements of a specific patron for personal use within an important library. Its divided central structure allows for giant folios to be stored, while the three ratcheted easels and two slides give the ability to display for study multiple open volumes, watercolors, maps, etc. The deluxe nature of the piece is further conferred by the use of the very finest Cuban mahogany throughout.
Thomas Jefferson is said to have designed a bookstand, which was completed circa 1810 at the Monticello Joinery (figure 1). Although Jefferson’s bookstand is a table object of much smaller scale than the present freestanding piece, both share the spirit of efficiency as well as very similar ratcheting mechanisms, which allows one reading flap to fold upwards from its horizontal ‘lid’ position, while another folds outwards underneath it from its vertical hanging position, creating the impression of a continuous slope.