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  • image XF377
Glazed pedestal bookcase, XF377, English, unknown maker, c.1812, Mahogany (?partly ebonised) with mirror glass.©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Hugh Kelly.

Glazed pedestal bookcase, English, unknown maker, c.1812

Mahogany with mirror glass; the upper surfaces of the glazing bars may be ebonised

Height: 236cm
Width: 171.5cm
Depth (upper section): 33cm
Depth (lower section): 38.4cm

Museum number: XF377

Curatorial note

In two sections with reeded cornice with a later projecting bracket fitted around it and screwed into the top to enable the display of a plaster model by Flaxman. The upper section with two glazed doors flanked by vertical strips of mirror; each of the glazed doors has a single horizontal moulded astragal just below the centre and is bordered with narrow strips of mirror glass within mounded astragals to top, left and right sides; replacement brass lock to upper doors signed 13 T & F LTD LONDON and SECURE / 2 / LEVER; a numbered or lettered ivory disc removed from the left-hand door and pieced in; internally the upper section has four fixed shelves with simple scratch mouldings to the fronts, like those to the other bookcases in the room. The lower section of the bookcase is in two parts; its glazed doors are of a different design to the upper doors and have mahogany panels in the centre; the lower doors also have replacement locks, the right-hand one stamped 14 T & F LTD LONDON and SECURE / 2 / LEVER and the left-hand one 12 T & F LTD LONDON and SECURE / 2 / LEVER; original brass top and bottom bolts to lower doors; inside, the lower section has a single reeded shelf. The sides of the lower section of the bookcase have circular holes cut in them to accommodate the door handles of the adjacent doors to the Dome area and the bookcase slightly overlaps the moulding around these doors (perhaps an indication that it was moved here from somewhere else); later cabin hooks are fixed to each side of the bookcase to hold the adjacent doors open.

This magnificent bookcase must have been designed by Soane and has stood since 1812-13 against the centre of the north wall of the Breakfast Room where its mirrored doors add to what Soane called, when describing this room, ‘those fanciful effects which constitute the poetry of architecture’ (Vol. 82, 26 and Vol. 85A).1

The cornice of this bookcase differs from those on the other bookcases in the room and careful examination seems to indicate that the bookcase itself is two separate carcases, top and bottom, which have been moved, combined and re-assembled – probably during the move from No. 12.

1Description, 1835 p. 54.

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk