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.
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.