11592

A MOST UNUSUAL MAHOGANY CIRCULAR BOOKCASE SURMOUNTED BY A STATUARY DISHED MARBLE TOP

English. Early Nineteenth Century.

Measurements

Height: 53 7/8” (136.8 cm) Diameter: 25 1/2” (64.7 cm) Diameter of top: 24 1/4” (61.5 cm).

Research
Of well figured mahogany. Surmounted by a statuary marble top with dished center and a neoclassical carved ogee molded edge resting upon a plain frieze with knulled molding. The upper section with four sheer mahogany uprights interspersed with four columns of open bookshelves. The lower section topped by a circular narrow shelf with molded edge. Below are conforming open shelves with shaped mahogany divisions. The whole resting upon a plain plinth. Minor repairs to veneers. Minor structural and shelf replacements.

The present bookcase is a most unusual example of a peculiarly Regency English circular form. In his important publication The Repository of Arts (March 1810), Rudolf Ackermann illustrates a bookcase in the round (figure 1), which he describes as “an ingenious and elegant contrivance.”1 The illustrated example was manufactured by Morgan & Sanders with permission of the patentee, the bookseller Benjamin Crosby, whose patent for a “machine or stand for books…which may be turned or moved at pleasure, with cases to receive books”2  was recorded in 1808.

This mahogany example is very unusual for its small scale, but even more so for its original marble top, which boasts a beautifully carved molded edge. This marble edge is related to drawings in Charles Heathcote Tatham’s Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture, first published in 1800, for ancient entablature fragments in the Orto Farnese, Rome (figure 2).

The bookcase was surely designed as a bespoke piece for a connoisseur patron, and given the reduced scale of the book compartments within the piece, it was perhaps created for a specific collection, such as a series of poetry volumes.

Footnotes:

  1. Ackermann, Rudolph, and Pauline Agius. Ackermann’s Regency Furniture & Interiors. Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire: Crowood Press, 1984. 48
  2. Shimbo, Akiko. Furniture-makers and Consumers in England, 1754-1851: Design As Interaction. 2015. 86.

Full research report available on request.