Antique Bookcases - Buyers Guide

Antique Bookcases from LoveAntiques

Antique Bookcases - Buyers Guide

Buyer’s Guide to Antique Bookcases

Below, you will find all you need to know when considering buying an Antique Bookcase.  With Expert & Interior Design advice we can help you to make the right decisions.

Expert Antique Dealers Advice

James Driscoll of has a vast amount of experience in the antiques world, and has many high quality antique bookcases for sale. Below he suggests his top five tips when purchasing an antique bookcase.

1. Always stick to quality.

When searching for your first purchase you will see many similar looks but they can vary massively in quality, we would always recommend to go for the best quality as this will hold the value if you ever decide to sell in the future, and will be better constructed so will last forever if cared for correctly.

2. Try to find a bookcase in as original condition as possible.
We always keep the original finish where possible and clean and restore using traditional methods. We would always recommend finding bookcases in the original finish as this will hold its value and offer a wonderful patina that cannot be reproduced.

3. Usability 
Don’t just buy a bookcase because of its rarity, ensure it is usable and will be used, as they are not just there to look pretty but also to be used on a daily basis. Antique bookcases are usually solidly built so will be made to last using solid timbers.

4. Look for the little details 
On bookcases detailing can be very plain, but little details like the brass cabinet ware and the fine carvings can make a huge difference to the value; these decorative touches can be associated to famous cabinet-makers, and are sought after by collectors.

5.    Look out for Makers stamps 
A maker’s mark or stamp on a bookcase can be an amazing find as this can add to the value and desirability to collectors. Cabinet-makers like Gillows of Lancaster made some amazing examples and as they only stamped a small amount of the furniture that they made, collectors will really pay a premium for a stamped piece.

Interior Designer Advice 

Our in house interior designer offers the following advice when purchasing an antique bookcase for your home.

Style Choices

Antique bookcases come in a myriad of sizes, do you want a bookcase that is imposing and stands out in your room or would you prefer a smaller piece that slots perfectly in the corner? Antique bookcases can be open-fronted; glass fronted or feature cabinet doors. Consider what you are going to use the bookcase for and where you are going to place it before deciding on a style or size.

Flank a Doorway

If you are able to purchase a pair of antique bookcases it is a really nice means in which to flank a doorway, it fills a space that may otherwise go unused and looks very impressive in a home or either side of a staircase if you are lucky to have a large hall that could accommodate such a feature.

Go Grand

Bookcases were once synonymous with the wealthy, educated and upper classes, it is a piece of furniture that is often grand in statute. Books transport us, our fondness for stories lasting through the ages; people love losing themselves in a narrative. The desire to be removed from reality, the urge for escapism is often satisfied by a good book, so why not have a bookcase to reflect upon the joy of this pastime. A grand Regency style or ornate heavy Victorian bookcase would be perfect for just that, both noticeable and substantial. 

Extra Considerations


Antique bookcases were usually made from hard durable woods such as walnut, mahogany, oak and rosewood. Hand-crafted there are some exquisite examples of craftsmanship with beautiful patina. Antique bookcases were made in an array of shapes and sizes so chose carefully, for example there are library bookcases, open bookcases, revolving and stacking bookcases.

Remember during their day large bookcases were seen as a statement of wealth and education so the bigger the bookcase the better; this may prove a little problematic when it comes to fitting in to the given space within your home, so always measure your area and doorways accurately, to ensure the antique bookcase will fit.


Check for authenticity- try to identify a marking or an itched signature. Real bronze handles as opposed to spelter increase a bookcases worth. Antique Bookcases that stand out to collectors often include those that are of rarity, such as William IV and Regency bookcases made from rosewood or zebrawood. Antique bookcases with details such as Corinthian columns are highly coveted by collectors, also of note in terms of investment is barrister stackable bookcases made by Globe Wernicke. 

Environmentally Friendly

As the majority of antique bookcases were made from hardwood they are in fact very durable, withstanding the test of time and still retaining their style, value and character. As society becomes more socially and environmentally conscious as does the desire to reuse and recycle, an antique bookcase is the perfect piece of furniture to rehome and continue its life cycle.


Avoid places that are damp with too much moisture in the air. Add beeswax to preserve the original patina of the wood; wherever possible antique furniture should have its original finish maintained, it is important to regular clean items so old dirt does not build up and applying a protective wax finish would help to ensure this. If there is any damage to your antique bookcase or restorative work needed it is always worth contacting an expert.


Antique bookcases can often be heavy and cumbersome to transport and require specialist care when transporting them. Antique furniture is often irreplaceable so it is essential to use a reputable courier, who has the required skills and experience of delivering such items. It is always a good idea to insure your antique furniture before transportation, so in the case of an unfortunate accident you can be compensated for your loss.


Image Credit:
First Image: Adobe Stock ©Demian File#71360489
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