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When books were written by hand and were quite scarce, they were kept in small cases which the wealthy carried about with them on their journeys. Although as manuscript volumes started to build up in the religious houses or in regal palaces, they were stored upon shelves or in cupboards, and it is from these cupboards that the bookcase of today descends from. At a somewhat later date the doors were discarded, and the evolution of the bookcase made one step forward.

Even then, however, the volumes were not arranged in the modern fashion. They were either placed in piles on their sides, and if they were upright, they were ranged with their backs to the wall and their edges outwards. The band of leather, vellum or parchment which closed the book was often used for the inscription of the title, which was thus on the fore-edge instead of on the back.

The oldest bookcases in England are those in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, which were placed in position in the last year or two of the 16th century; in that library are the earliest examples of shelved galleries over the flat wall-cases. Long ranges of bookcases are sort of severe in appearance, and many attempts have been made by means of carved cornices and pilasters to give them a more riant appearance. These attempts were never very successfulan were carried out by english cabinetmakers.

More about Bookcase:A bookcase, or bookshelf, is a example of furniture, almost always with horizontal shelves, utilised to store books. A bookcase consists of a unit including two or move shelves which haw not every be utilised to contain books or other printed materials. Bookcases frequently have doors that should be closed to protect the books from air pollution, and bookshelves are open-fronted. These doors are almost always glazed, so as to allow the spines of the books to be read. A bookshelf normally stands on some other example of furniture much as a desk or chest. Larger books are more likely to be kept in horizontal piles and very large books flat on wide shelves.

In Latin and Greek the idea of bookcase is represented by Bibliotheca and Bibliotheke derivatives of which stingy library in some recent languages.

History of the bookcase

When books were written by hand and were not produced in enthusiastic quantities, they were kept in small boxes or chests which owners (usually the wealthy or clergy) carried with them. As manuscript volumes accumulated in religious houses or in homes of the wealthy, they were stored on shelves or in cupboards. These cupboards are the direct predecessors of today's bookcases. Later the doors were discarded, and the evolution of the bookcase proceeded. Even then, however, the volumes were not arranged in the recent fashion. They were either placed in piles upon their sides, or if upright, were ranged with their backs to the wall and their edges outwards. The band of leather, vellum or parchment which closed the book was often utilised for the inscription of the title, which was thus on the fore-edge instead of on the spine. Titles were also commonly written onto the fore-edge.

It was not until the invention of printing had greatly reduced the cost of books, thus allowing some more people direct admittance to owning books, that it became the training to indite the title on the spine and shelve books with the spine outwards. Early bookcases were commonly of oak, which is ease deemed by some to be the most pertinent wood for an elegant library.

Oldest bookcases

The oldest bookcases in England are those in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, which were placed in position in the last year or two of the sixteenth century; in that library are the earliest extant examples of shelved galleries over the flat wall-cases. Long ranges of book-shelves are somewhat severe in appearance, and some attempts have been prefabricated by means of carved cornices and pilasters to give them a less austere appearance. These attempts were most successful as in the hands of the English cabinetmakers of the second half of the ordinal century.

Designers and manufacturers

Both cabinetmaker and Sheraton prefabricated or designed some bookcases, mostly glazed with little lozenges encased in fretwork frames, often of enthusiastic charm and elegance. In the eyes of some, the grace of some of Sheraton's satinwood bookcases has rarely been equalled. The French cabinetmakers of the same period were also highly successful with small ornamental cases. Mahogany, rosewood satinwood and even choicer exotic timbers were used; they were often inlaid with marquetry and mounted with chased and golden bronze. Dwarf bookcases were frequently finished with a slab of choice marble at the top.

Library shelving

In the enthusiastic public libraries of the ordinal century the bookcases are often of iron, as in the nation Museum where the shelves are covered with cowhide, or steel, as in the Library of Congress at Washington, D.C., or of slate, as in the Fitzwilliam Library at Cambridge.

Systems of arrangement

There are three stationary systems of arranging bookcases: Flat against the wall; in stacks or ranges parallel to each other with merely enough expanse between to allow of the passage of a librarian; or in bays or alcoves where cases project out into the room at right angles to the wall-cases. The stack grouping is suitable only for public libraries where economy of expanse is essential; the niche grouping is not only handsome but utilizes the expanse to enthusiastic advantage. The library of the City of London at the Guildhall is a peculiarly effective example of the niche arrangement.

For libraries where expanse is extremely tight there is yet another system, commonly called mobile aisle shelving. In much systems rows of bookcases are mounted on wheels and packed tightly unitedly with only one or more aisles between them. It is possible then to meet only two bookcase sides at a time, every the others existence pressed close together. A gearing execution allows users move the bookcases and open the aisle in the desirable location. Because of the danger of tripping on the floor mounted rails or existence squashed between bookcases these systems haw have electronic sensors and/or recessed track, or are reserved for closed stacks where admittance is restricted.

Barrister's bookcase

A barrister requires the ingest of some law books and haw frequently move to new chambers. A specialised form of portable bookcase has thus matured to meet their needs. A barrister's bookcase consists of individual removed ridge units that haw be stacked unitedly to form a cabinet. An additional plinth and hood complete the piece. When moving chambers, each ridge is carried separately without needing to remove its contents and becomes a carrying-case full of books.

As most high-quality bookcases are closed by doors, but also to retain the books when existence carried, a barrister's bookcase has glazed doors. As the shelves must ease removed it's not possible to provide the customary hinged doors opening sideways and so instead they ingest an \"up and over\" execution on each shelf. The better quality cases ingest a metal scissor execution inside the shelves to ensure that the doors move in a parallel fashion without skewing and jamming. Many of this style, exported worldwide, were prefabricated by the Skandia Furniture Co. of Rockford, Illinois around the beginning of the 20th century.

This style of bookcase was either prefabricated in a Dickensian period, or harkens back to the style of much times, so they're most commonly glazed with a leaded reddened and small panes of glass.

The true barrister's bookcase must be confident of each ridge existence carried with a heavy load of books. The more burly examples have folding handles at the ends of each shelf. Modern \"decorator\" copies of these haw look the same, but are often too gently constructed to be carried whilst loaded, or haw even be simply a single fixed case as per a normal bookcase, but with removed doors to each ridge to give the attendance of a barrister's bookcase.

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Bookcase Article by Svetlana Lozovenko
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