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Antique Oak Bookcases - Samuel Pepys Bookcases

In 1666 the famous diarist Samuel Pepys was given to lament the fact that his books were "growing numerous and lying one upon another on my chairs". Simpson the Joiner was commissioned to solve the problem and he produced 12 free standing bookcases of solid oak.

Prior to this, freestanding bookcases, called presses, were not in use and books were normally stored in fitted cupboards with shelving.

Oak Bookcase
An oak bookcase of 1695 similar to Pepys bookcases.

Simpson's oak bookcases, which now stand in Magdalene College, Cambridge, are remarkable in being immediately recognisable to us today - in many ways the bookcases produced in late 17th century England have changed little in form to the present day.

The twelve bookcases were made of oak, had low glazed bases with carved mouldings, and glass doors subdivided by heavy glazing bars. They were done in a quite architectural style with projecting cornices and friezes decorated with acanthus carving.

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