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Bookcase, XF384, English, unknown maker, early nineteenth century, mahogany and glass with brass locks and ironmongery and numbered ivory discs. ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Hugh Kelly.

Bookcase, English, unknown maker, early nineteenth century

Mahogany and glass with brass locks and ironmongery and numbered ivory discs

Height: 82.5cm
Width: 62cm
Depth: 40cm

Museum number: XF384

Curatorial note

With single glazed door, hung on the right edge, built in to the right of the Dressing Room desk but a separate piece; the glazed doors with two vertical and one horizontal astragal glazing bars forming marginal panes; inscription painted across the top in gold lettering Books in folio1 and number 99 in gold painted above the inset brass diamond-shaped keyhole escutcheon which matches those on much of the other Soane furniture but does not match the later ones which have been added to the drawers of the adjacent desk XF187.

The desk and bookcase are treated as two separate items in the Furniture and Fittings inventory of 1837.

It is interesting that the desk XP187 is of a different height and utterly different conformation and design to that in the adjacent small Study. The two centre drawers, with their brass bail handles may both be later additions as the other desk drawers all have inset brass ring-pull handles, matching those on the Study desk and on the nests of drawers which were within the adjacent closet (XP138 and XP161). It is impossible to sit at the desk with the two centre drawers present and it seems likely that the lower one at least was added after Soane’s death: the 1835 view seems to show the upper one in place. Unfortunately the description of the desk in the 1837 Furniture and Fittings list as ‘A mahogany case of drawers under windows, the drawers screwed up’ does not confirm this. The adjacent bookcase is described separately in the 1837 list as ‘A mahogany bookcase with 3 small Brass guards fixed against glass’, with a note of the later removal of the brass guards in Joseph Bonomi’s hand.2

1This inscription probably dates from Soane’s time and may have been carried out at the same time as those on the Denon bookcases, see cats 77-78.
2Joseph Bonomi was Curator 1861-78.


J. Soane Description of the Residence of John Soane, Architect, London, 1835, p. 11

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