1857-Era House of Representatives Bookcase

by John Werry on April 19, 2009

house representatives bookcase 1857 Era House of Representatives Bookcase

As members of the Rare Victorian forum and of subscribers to Rare Victorian Special Finds have known for a number of days, this somewhat simple bookcase may be a pretty rare find.  Thanks to a tip from Jason/1881Victorian in the forum, we were alerted to a bookcase that has carved shields that greatly resemble those on the Thomas Ustik Walter-designed (and Bembe & Kimbel/Hammitt Desk Co. manufactured) House of Representatives chairs.

ustik walter bookcase1 1857 Era House of Representatives Bookcase

In the past few years I have seen several of the House of Representatives chairs from the 1857 House redesign and I’ve seen a few desks come up for sale, but I have never seen a bookcase with identical shields.  Compare the three shields above; the top being from a Bembe & Kimbel House of Rep chair sold by Neal Auction and the bottom two shields are from the bookcase that sold on Saturday 4/18/09.

I am completely convinced that this is/was an original House of Representatives bookcase, possibly manufactured by Bembe & Kimbel.  The top two shields are so close a match it can only be so.  The twig pattern on the bottom, the Oak leaves to the right and laurel (?) on the left are present in both.  I believe I see at least a single acorn in the top shield which are abundent in the center shield on the right side.

I have found no documentation to corroborate the existence of bookcases being ordered from Bembe & Kimbel or Doe Hazelton or Hammitt Desk, but I have read of a possible sofa order from Bembe & Kimbel.

As you read this, I am probably fishing for trophy Rockfish so I am not here to tell you what it sold for (I may have bid on it too – haven’t decided as of this writing) but this listing can be found here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

RareVictorian April 19, 2009 at 10:17 am

Update: I had bid $1,625 via Artfact Live! in advance and it appears that it closed at $1,600. Why does it feel like that absence of a “highest bidder” email which was scheduled for last night is an indication that I fell through one of those absentee bid loopholes where identical bids placed by the in-person bidders take precedence and bids probably have to be in $100 increments (not $25 – the amount my max bid exceeded the winning bid).

I haven’t read the fine print to check how the absentee bids are handled. I usually don’t have to…

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james conrad April 20, 2009 at 5:19 am

Yup, thats what happens to bidders online, we are second class bidders.

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