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Pair of Very Important Samuel Pepys 1666 Large Library Bookcases After Original

$49,282.98per set
$61,603.73per set20% Off


We are delighted to offer for sale this pair of Samuel Pepys 1666 large library bookcases after the original. These bookcases are basically the birthplace of the free standing bookcase as we know it today, in 2016 they celebrated their 350th anniversary, these are 20th-century examples hand made by a master craftsman, every single piece of wood has been hand cut I have never seen a pair in mahogany before or this wide, all the others have been significantly slimmer I’ll include below the history of the pieces in their original form, these bookcases are historically important, the originals are in the Samuel Pepys Library in the Magdalene College of Oxford university, there is one in the Victorian and Albert Museum These have been cleaned waxed and polished and are in sublime condition, there are working keys for most locks Dimensions: Height 223cm Width 183cm Depth 41cm Please note all measurements are taken at the widest point Samuel Pepy 350th Anniversary year 2016 marks the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire of London, which Pepys so famously recorded in his diary. This year also marks the 350th birthday of Pepys’ first two bookcases, or ‘presses’ as he called them. Pepys noted in July 1666 that he had lost the use of his books due to their being stacked up on chairs. Instead of emulating a library in an aristocratic house by fitting shelving to the walls in his modest lodgings on Seething Lane, Pepys decided upon a flexible (and affordable) approach to the storage of his books. He commissioned a ship’s Master Joiner, Thomas Simpson, to help create a radical new design. The freestanding ‘flat pack’ oak book presses, which can be dismantled and moved using the carrying handles fitted to the sides, indicate Pepys’ ambition to move into bigger and better accommodation. During Pepys’ lifetime, the presses were moved around as he changed his place of residence. However, the presses have never been moved from the Pepys Building since their arrival at Magdalene in 1724. During the Great Fire of London in September 1666, when the first two book presses were almost brand new, Pepys had them sent across the River Thames to Deptford for safe-keeping. A few weeks after the fire, Thomas Simpson returned to help ‘set them up’ again in Seething Lane. The book presses are a representation of Pepys’ understanding of book conservation and a reflection of his astuteness. By employing the services of a ship’s master joiner, Pepys used his naval connections to ensure a ‘good deal’ for the materials and workmanship, and the presses are reminiscent of ship’s furniture, for example the deep carving patterns in the wood. The wooden feet prevent damp and rodent damage, and the glazed fronts allow the books to be shown to their best advantage. This type of book storage was revolutionary, and the presses are now considered to be the oldest of their type with these particular features. Of course, books in the 17th century were still a symbol of status and the notion of books as aesthetically beautiful objects to enhance a room’s decoration was an important one. This idea, combined with Pepys’ love of order and organisation, leads to an obsession with achieving aesthetic perfection, and the overall look of the library was extremely important to him. The books are stored in order of height, going against contemporary practice of shelving books by subject matter. Although this seems a very illogical idea, we can be grateful to Pepys for his predilection for symmetry of form: by having books of the same size next to each other, the books are well supported and thus the bindings remain in a good condition to the present day. Pepys repeatedly vowed to himself in his diary that he would not buy any books which he did not have room for in his presses, but throughout his lifetime and as his wealth increased, he commissioned more presses to be made in the same design to house his ever-growing book collection. Although at first glance the presses look identical, there are slight differences: the later presses do not have adjustable shelving, whilst the early ones do. All twelve presses can be viewed in the Pepys Library during the public opening hours. Please see the Magdalene College Website for our opening times. This item is available for collection from our Wimbledon warehouses Condition Please view the very detailed pictures as they form part of the description around condition Please note vintage period and original items such as leather seating will always have natural patina in the form of cracking creasing and wear, we recommend regular waxing to ensure no moisture is lost, also hand dyed leather is not recommended to sit in direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time as it will dry out and fade.


  • Dimensions
    Height: 87.8 in. (223 cm)Width: 72.05 in. (183 cm)Depth: 16.15 in. (41 cm)
  • Sold As
    Set of 2
  • Style
    Georgian (In the Style Of)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
    20th Century
  • Condition
    Wear consistent with age and use. Minor fading.
  • Seller Location
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU2823320514032

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Customs Duties & Taxes May Apply.
    Ships From: United Kingdom
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 14 days of delivery.

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About the Seller
Located in United Kingdom
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