During the past year, many of us have sought books – for escape, for education and for a really good sourdough recipe.  We’ve been reminded of their value, and perhaps, even the value of well-functioning storage that houses these precious objects.

As far back as 544AD, the Chinese used revolving bookcases, similar to this one made by Elijah Slocum, to protect their prized treasures. Originally popularized by Buddhist monks, they weren’t holding books, they were filled with scrolls.

Eventually, book storage morphed into what we now would consider a cupboard, with its contents hidden from view. In fact, the doors probably were locked. Books were painstakingly crafted by hand at that time, and thus were an extremely precious commodity – most likely owned by a church.

As books became more available, more people learned to read, and the bookcase, as we know it, appeared.  People were proud; they wanted to show off their ability to read and, just as important, their accumulating collections of the printed word.

Designs of storage cabinets were developing just as fast.  First embellished with simple pilasters and cornices, bookcases came into their own in the second half of the 18th century when English cabinetmakers began treating them like furniture – made to work in harmony with other pieces in the home.  Chippendale and Sheraton designs, similar to our work shown below, added glass and fretwork as well as fancy woods, raising the function of storage to elegant highs.

Today, our craftsmen can create storage that celebrates the same handmade standards sought after in the 19th century.  Need customizing like extra depth or extra height?   Is there a particular wood or style that works with your décor?  We can create exactly what you need and accommodate all your cherished possessions – even if they’re not books.

We’re Elijah Slocum – bespoke furniture makers.

ABOVE: Tall Revolving Book Carousel
The Famous Pepy’s Bookcase Copied in Burr Walnut
A Mahogany Bookcase featuring Gilded Details & Custom Hardware
A Regency Style Narrow Bookcase in Rare Figured French Walnut
A Breakfront Bookcase of Flame Mahogany featuring Gothic Glazing
Mahogany Waterfall Bookcase copied after Jane Austin’s favorite furniture maker:  Robert Gillow
Regency Low Bookcase of Burr Oak featuring Reeded Corner Pilasters