1857-Era House of Representatives Bookcase

by John Werry on April 19, 2009

house-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

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…

Reply

james conrad April 20, 2009 at 5:19 am

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

Reply

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