Bookcases And Shelves – A Luxury Or A Necessity?
Picture a house without bookcases or shelves and try to imagine if it would be a pretty sight to have everything lying on the floor; the sheer number of things simply being piled on tables and chairs or atop each other for lack of a place to put it on.
Now, imagine if all of that mess was all neatly and safely placed into rows in one area in a good orderly fashion – wouldn’t that be a more pleasing place to be in?
While bookcases and shelves may be common furnishings today, they were once considered a highly valuable luxury back in the old days.
An average home may only have one or two bookcases and shelves with the rest of their items hanging on pegs or hooks. It was not until the Victorian era that bookcases and shelves became common use, although the norms still dictated that ornate and lavish furniture were solely for the elite. Back then, they played both a purposeful and ornamental purpose, as bookcases and shelves were used for a variety of purposes all over the household.
While bookcases and shelves usually evoke thoughts of libraries, they are not used solely for the arrangement of books.
Then, as now, there have always been different varieties of bookcases and shelves each suited for a particular purpose.
Fragile, delicate, and precious items were often kept behind glass-paneled bookcases and shelves, most of the time under lock and key to prevent prying hands from getting into them. Purveyors of rare books and antiquities also practiced the same thing.
Simpler houses employed built-in bookcases and shelves to create a sense of order in an otherwise crammed household.
To this day bookcases and shelves still function as both practical furniture and aesthetic furnishing.
While bookcases and shelves are still employed as an aesthetic, it no longer possesses the same ornate craftsmanship that older examples once had. Today, the vogue lies heavily with minimalism, which, while it lacks the aplomb of old-world furniture, nevertheless has a distinct charm which amazingly beguiles.
Glass Bookcases – The Staple Of The Serious Book-lover
Any bibliophile worth his salt will tell you that some books are made for reading, some are made for giving away, and some are made to be treasured like holy relics.
While a lot of people may think it excessive to actually ‘treasure’ some books, people who have a passion for them know that there are books which are nothing short of special.
Antique books, first editions, autographed copies, and very expensive facsimiles all need extra care and attention. While such books were stored in a variety of different way to help preserve them, one of the best methods of storing them nowadays is with the use of glass bookcases.
Just hearing the name ‘glass bookcases’ brings to mind furniture which is entirely made of fragile material, when in fact such isn’t actually the case.
While there are indeed bookcases that made entirely from smoked glass, such types of furniture are more decorative than functional.
Glass bookcases are really nothing more than bookcases that possess a front ‘door’, which is either made entirely of glass or constructed out of wood paneled with glass. While we commonly assume that glass bookcases are something altogether modern, the vogue for such furnishings actually go way back to the end of the Edwardian era when book collecting and antiquarian bookselling was at its highest peak among the higher class citizenry.
Collectors know that certain volumes and manuscripts are too delicate to handle or simply expose to whatever can lay hands on it easily, which is why glass bookcases are favored in the antiquarian book trade because it protects collections from the elements, critters, and prying hands that may damage the volumes.
The glass which fronted some antique glass bookcases were often dyed a dark color to prevent sunlight from filtering through and damaging the books within. While many of these bookcases showcased plain glass, the primary purpose of glass bookcases then was never solely the safety of the books but presence that it exudes to people. It remains to this day one of the most sophisticated ways to display and flaunt one’s collection of books and artifacts.
Glass bookcases are not longer employed solely for the storage and display of books nowadays, as precious pottery and rare trinkets are also effectively displayed in them.
Glass bookshelves custom made for antiquarian book collectors even posses a built-in humidor to control the temperature within the bookcase and preserve the oftentimes delicate paper of antique books!
The purpose that glass bookcases served centuries ago still remains to this day making it a truly timeless classic.
The Benefits Of Built In Bookcases
While some of us read books on a fair occasion and some settle for one book once a year or so, there are those whose lives are influenced by, and which revolve around books.
Such individuals are known as bibliophiles, and no, it’s not some sort of strange disease – it’s just what people who love to collect and read books are called. There are generally two types of bibliophiles: those who collect for the fun of collecting, and those who collect books only for their inherent rarity or market value.
While these collectors couldn’t be anymore different, there is that one thing that unites them though: their near-obsessive care for their books. While the rest of us just pile books everywhere without paying heed to where they go or how they’re arranged, these individuals have strict shelving protocol which rivals even that of libraries.
For these meticulous book lovers nothing beats having built in bookshelves in their homes; in fact, you’ll probably already find some in their households!
One of the primary benefits associated with the use of built in bookcases is its ability to hold a vast number of volumes without toppling under the weight, and because of this it can also double as a shelf for other décor.
Built in bookcases which possess ornate designs or that are of exemplary craftsmanship also double as wonderful interior furnishings. Due to their sturdy and solid nature, heavy decorations such as statuettes and figurines are kept safe from accidents quite effectively.
It is a given though that the general strength of built in bookcases vary depending on the materials used and the method of construction. While we may think at all built in bookcases are made equally the same, we must take into consideration that they aren’t actually furniture but part of the integral structure of the house or room itself.
Old libraries and private libraries belonging to affluent individuals have some of the best examples of built in bookcases such as those made from rare hardwoods or those possessing highly ornate designs.
While building built in bookcases with hardwood may no longer be practical in this day and age, there are more affordable ways available to the general public.
Even more affordable wood like pine can be integrated into the wall of a room to create affordable built in bookcases. While they aren’t necessarily built-in in the strictest sense of the word as they were integrated after construction and not while the house was still being built, it is the closest to the real thing that we’ve got especially since a lot of folks nowadays rent in condos or flats.
Ensure that you hire only the best carpenters for the job to have only the best type of furnishings available. If you’re after a classical look for your built in bookcases, don’t be afraid to experiment with wood stain, oil, or polish.