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Barrister Bookcases

AMERICAN SECTIONAL, STACKING, OR BARRISTER BOOKCASES OF THE LATEST 19TH AND EARLY 20TH CENTURY (circa 1892-1930)


by Roger W. Cooper (September, 2003) and Revised (March, 2011)

History

Sectional, or stacking, bookcases were popular pieces of furniture in offices and homes between approximately 1895 and 1935.  Sectional bookcases are also referred to as 'barrister' bookcases by some reflecting their wide use by lawyers and attorneys across the United States during the early part of the 20th Century.  Various companies also used them in their business offices to store various types of papers, records, and other data.  Sectional bookcases were also used by various governmental agencies extending from the local to the Federal level. Government contracts were just as important to various companies in the early 1900's as they are now.  Many people used them in their home especially if part of their home also served as a business office.  In addition, the growing middle class in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries were developing an interest in literature as well as other topics as books became less expensive and more readily available.

One significant advantage of sectional bookcases was they could be broken down and shipped via railroads or ships and then transported to their final destination in a horse drawn buckboard, Model A or Model T truck, or even in the back seat of a car.  In addition, they usually required no tools to assemble.  The buyer simply stacked the pieces together in whatever order they preferred or needed and 'voila' they had a bookcase.  For example, catalogs of the Gunn Furniture Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan in the early 1900’s emphasized their 'Knock-Down' construction in which a 6-stack bookcase (7 feet high, 3 feet wide, and 12 inches deep) could be broken down to fit in a 10 cubic foot container (i.e. a box 16" x 38" x 30").

Sectional or stacking bookcases were first introduced in the 1890's.  Otto Wernicke patented an 'elastic' (stacking) bookcase design in the early 1890's (late 1892) and founded the Wernicke Company in 1893 in Minneapolis, MN to manufacture and sell his elastic (sectional) bookcases.  By the mid- to late-1890's there were a number of styles and designs of stacking bookcases that were available from a variety of companies.  Most of the true antique sectional, or stacking, bookcases that are sold at antique auctions or are available from antique dealers can be dated to between 1895 and 1935 although they are still manufactured by some companies today (most notably the Hale Manufacturing Company).  In addition, new bookcases can be purchased at the present time (2011) that superficially imitates the ‘real’ thing.  However, plastic rollers, etc. and the lack of any patina make recently manufactured sectional-like bookcases easy to identify.

General Dimensions, Features, Woods Used, Major Manufacturers, and Prices

The general dimensions of most stacking, or sectional, bookcases are 9.5-14 inches deep and 33-34.25 inches wide.  Some companies manufactured different width book sections including large size (≈51" wide) and half or three-quarter size (≈17-26" wide).  Large size sectional bookcases are not commonly seen.  Half or three-quarter size sectional bookcases are also not commonly seen on the market and usually command a premium price at an antique auction, or from an antique dealer. especially if they are in good condition. Individual book sections or stacks can vary from 11-16.75 inches high (external height) for books ranging from 9.25 to 14 inches high. The actual height of any bookcase depends on the number and type of book sections (commonly referred to as stacks) in the bookcase.  The number of stacks in an individual bookcase can vary from 1 to 8 stacks with 3-stack and 4-stack bookcases being the most common.  The front of a book section (stack) usually consists of a glass door that is lifted and pushed back into the top of the book section to keep it open.  The glass door can consist of a single pane of glass (most common), leaded glass with or without a beveled edge (somewhat common), and grill-type arrangements of wood separators for anywhere from 3 to 8 individual pieces or panes of glass in a single door.

One of the distinctive features of the different manufacturers of sectional bookcases is the actual 'door' mechanism they employed.  This refers to the actual design, or mechanism, that was used for the glass door when it was lifted and pushed back into the section or stack.  In theory, each manufacturer had to develop a door mechanism that did not infringe on the patent rights of another manufacturer.  You might think this should make it easy to identify the manufacturer of any particular stack in a sectional bookcase.  However, in practice, this is not the case for many bookcases that do not have a paper label or that are otherwise marked.  Some door mechanisms by different manufacturers appear to be very similar and have very subtle differences.  In addition, some manufacturers changed the design and appearance of the door mechanism over time.

Desk or secretary sections are occasionally found as part of a bookcase.  They usually consist of a drop-front door with an internal arrangement of pigeonholes and drawers.  They do not necessarily add value to a bookcase other than being an additional section.  Although not rare, desk sections are somewhat uncommon and auctioneers and dealers will often use them as part of a 'selling' strategy.  In some bookcases the door to the lowest section below the desk section has a framed wood panel rather than a glass pane.  This was done to avoid the glass being periodically broken (kicked) by someone who also used the bookcase as a desk.

It needs to be noted, only the bookcase sections are 'counted' or considered, when referring to the number of 'stacks' in a particular bookcase usually.  Thus a 4-stack bookcase means there are 4 book sections, or stacks, while the base and top sections of the bookcase are not considered as individual sections even though they are present.  Desk sections are an exception to the 'rule'.  Some people refer to them as a separate 'stack' while others will note the presence of a desk section in addition to the book sections.

The woods used in the construction of sectional bookcases include quarter-sawn (quartered) oak, plain oak, genuine mahogany, imitation mahogany (often birch with a mahogany finish), walnut, and imitation walnut (often ash or birch with a walnut finish).  Other woods that were occasionally used include cherry, basswood, and butternut while chestnut was very rarely used for sectional bookcases.

In the early 1900’s, sectional bookcases were manufactured by a number of various regional and developing national companies.  The five major companies include:

Globe-Wernicke Company based in Cincinnati, Ohio (1904-1967)

Gunn Furniture Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan (1893-1953)

Hale Furniture Company located in Herkimer, New York (1907-present);

Lundstrom Manufacturing Company, Little Falls, New York (circa 1904-1965); and

The Macey Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan (1896-1940).

Most of the commonly available sectional bookcases (at antique auctions or from antique dealers) are made by one of these five companies.  These companies also made numerous other types of office and store furniture including sectional file cabinets; one-piece letter- and legal-size file cabinets with 3 to 4 drawers; store display cabinets; and desks.

Some other companies that also made sectional bookcases, again in addition to other types and kinds of office and home furniture, include:

Century Cabinet Company, Fort Plain, New York (near Little Falls, NY);

Danner Manufacturing Company, Canton, Ohio;

Humphrey Bookcase Company, Detroit, Michigan (circa 1907-1910)

Humphrey-Widman Company, Detroit, Michigan (circa 1910-??);

Imperial Furniture Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1903-1954);

Macey-Wernicke Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1905-1908);

Morden Manufacturing Company, Toronto, Ontario (??-??)

New England Furniture Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1881-1904);

The Viking Sectional Bookcase, Skandia Furniture Company, Rockford, Illinois (1889-19??)

Weis Furniture Company, Monroe, Michigan;

Wernicke Furniture Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1893-97) and

Wernicke Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1898-1905).

Some manufacturers also designed custom-built stacking bookcases to specific specifications required or requested by a customer.  It can be extremely difficult to identify the manufacturer of custom-built bookcases.

It is not uncommon to see sections made by more than one company in the same bookcase due to the similarity in style, appearance, and dimensions of sections manufactured by the various companies.  Some of the more common 'mixed' or 'combination' of sections that I have seen in the same bookcase include:  1) sections made by Globe-Wernicke and Hale; 2) sections made by Globe-Wernicke and Macey; 3) sections made by Macey-Wernicke and Macey; 4) sections made by Macey-Wernicke and Globe-Wernicke; 5) sections made by Wernicke of Grand Rapids and Globe-Wernicke; and 6) in one incredible 6-stack bookcase that I found there were sections made by Globe-Wernicke, Macey-Wernicke, and Macey.  Any previous owner could have mixed the sections, from two or more different companies, at any time.  However, I suggest that the dealer or auctioneer be asked if they purchased the 'mixed' bookcase in its present configuration or if they 'created' the configuration.  Bookcases that contain sections manufactured by more than one company should be inspected very closely.  A 'mixed' bookcase, at least to the author, is usually not as valuable as a bookcase with all of the sections made by the same company but I have seen two or three exceptions to this general rule.

The general price for a sectional bookcase, of course, varies based on: 1) the condition of the bookcase; 2) the region of the country; 3) the venue (antique or estate auction, estate sale, dealer shop/store, antique show/exhibit, etc.) where it is being sold or purchased; and 5) its rarity.  The term condition includes such things as the finish (original or refinished); glass (broken or not broken, original or replaced, etc.); and (or) warping, 'peeling', or 'bowing' of the wood.  Rarity refers to sectional bookcases made by some of the less prominent regional companies or to an unusual configuration or arrangement of stacks.  In general, at an antique or estate auction the buyer's cost may be $125 to $300 per stack depending on the condition of the bookcase.  At a dealer's shop or an antique show the buyer's cost may be $200 to $700 per section again depending on the condition of the bookcase.  In general, I question the wisdom of paying $500 to $700 per stack for any bookcase unless you are independently wealthy.  I have seen very few sectional bookcases that might truly be worth $500-$700 per stack.  My advice is to be patient and an appropriately priced sectional bookcase in a style that you like will turn up.  However, again there are always exceptions to these general rules.

Unless otherwise noted, the prices listed for each individual manufacturer (company) listed below cover the period between 1999 and 2003.  The manufacturer of a sectional bookcase makes little, if any, difference in the price of any particular sectional bookcase.  However, knowledge of the manufacturer and their styles is important to determining the age of a particular sectional bookcase.  To be honest, most dealers and auctioneers are not that very knowledgeable in regard to the provenance, manufacturer, and age of sectional bookcases.  Having made the previous statement, it must also be stated that this type of knowledge is probably only important to a true collector of sectional bookcases or a museum.

As of 2010-2011, the market and demand for sectional/stacking bookcases has declined significantly.  The price per section/stack at an antique auction or estate sale may be as low as $50 to $150 per section/stack depending on the condition of the bookcase.  The retail price, at the present time, from antique dealers is in the general range of $150 to $350 per section/stack.

Door Mechanisms (Used To Open And Close Door)

The mechanism that is used to open and close the glass door in a sectional bookcase can often be used to identify the manufacturer when no paper label or other identifying characteristic or style is present.  A few of these mechanisms are described for some of the more common types of sectional bookcases (Globe-Wernicke, Gunn, Hale, Lundstrom, Macey, Weis) that are encountered.

Globe-Wernicke Company, Cincinnati, Ohio—The door mechanism for many Globe-Wernicke bookcases is illustrated in Figures 1 and 2.  It usually involves crossing metal bands in a scissors-type pattern.  In addition, a metal box bracket attached to the top (or rear) of both sides of a door is often present.  Early Globe-Wernicke bookcases may also have a piece of sheet metal attached to the side piece that is often distinctive (Fig. 2).  The purpose of the scissors-type mechanism is to distribute and equalize the movement of the glass door when it is opened or closed and keeps it functioning smoothly.  The problem with the mechanism is that books may get scraped or caught in the ‘scissors’ when the door is opened and closed.  It is not uncommon to find one or more stacks in a Globe-Wernicke bookcase to be missing the scissors-type mechanism.

figure1a

Figure 1.  Top view of the scissors-type door mechanism involving two crossing metalbands attached to the wood frame of the door and the back panel in a Globe-Wernicke sectional bookcase (manufactured circa 1908-1913).

figure2a

Figure 2.  Internal views of one side of a stack in a Globe-Wernicke sectional bookcase (manufactured circa 1908-1913).  The upper figure shows the door mechanism with the door closed while the lower diagram shows the appearance of the door mechanism with the door open.

Gunn Furniture Company, Grand Rapids, MI—Almost all sectional bookcases made by the Gunn Furniture Company have a door mechanism that involves a 1/4” wide metal band that is attached to the wood side pieces of a stack.  Metal tabs are attached to the sides of the door (Fig. 3) that ‘catch’ the screw that secures the front end of the metal band when the door is closed.  The Gunn door mechanism may be the simplest of any of the mechanisms described here.  Some owners and dealers feel it is the ‘smoothest’ mechanism to operate and the mechanism that is least prone to ‘failing’ or breaking down. The scissors-type mechanism (crossing metal bands) used by a number of other companies is often missing or bent to the point that they can’t be used in many these bookcases.

figure3a

Figure 3.  Internal views of one side of a stack in a Gunn Manufacturing Company sectional bookcase (manufactured circa 1908-1913).  The upper diagram shows the door mechanism with the door closed while the lower diagram shows the appearance of the door mechanism with the door open.

F. E. HALE Manufacturing Company, Herkimer, New York—Many Hale sectional bookcases have a scissors-type door mechanism similar to those found on Globe-Wernicke (see above and Fig. 1) and/or some Macey sectional bookcases.

C. J. LUNDSTROM Manufacturing Company, Little Falls, New York—Lundstrom sectional bookcases usually have a horizontal metal rod that extends from the back of the stack to about one (1) inch from the front of the stack.  The metal rod has a right angle bend and is inset into a small diameter drilled hole in the side of the stack (Fig. 4).  There is also a metal cylinder on the rod that serves as a roller for the door as well as a ‘catch’ for a metal rod (with a right angle) that is attached to the door itself (Fig. 4).

figure4a

Figure 4.  Top and side views of a stack in a Lundstron sectional bookcase (manufactured circa 1910-1925).  The upper diagram illustrates the use of metal rods and a metal ‘roller’ employed to open and close the door.  The lower diagram illustrates the use of an additional metal rod attached to the door to ‘catch’ on the metal ‘roller’ when the door is closed.

The MACEY Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan—Macey sectional bookcases can have two types of door mechanisms.  The first mechanism that was used in Macey bookcases manufactured between approximately 1900 and 1910 have what is often referred to as a ‘track and sprocket’ door mechanism.  This refers to a slotted metal band (i.e. the ‘track’) that is attached to both sides of a stack (Figs. 5).  The top of the ‘track’ projects slightly outward from the two wood side pieces.  The ‘sprocket’ is a wheel with cogs that is attached to the side frame pieces of the door.  As the door is opened or closed the ‘sprocket’ wheel rotates as it moves along the ‘track’.  The gear wheel, or sprocket, is shown in upper diagram of Figure 5.  The presence of the slotted metal band and the gear wheel is unique to early Macey sectional bookcases and makes them easy to identify.  The second mechanism is extremely similar to the Globe-Wernicke scissors-type door mechanism (see above and Figures 1 and 2) and was used from about 1910 to 1935.  Therefore, it may be difficult to tell Macey sectional bookcases from Globe-Wernicke sectional bookcases if they were made between 1910 and 1935 and if there are no identifying paper labels or black stenciling that identifies the manufacturer.

figure5a

Figure 5.  Internal views of one side of a stack in a Macey sectional bookcase (circa 1906-1910) that has a ‘track and sprocket’ door opening and closing mechanism.  The wood side frame piece of the door is not shown in the upper diagram to illustrate the appearance of door mechanism when the wood door is closed.  The wood side frame piece of the door is shown in the lower diagram to illustrate the appearance of the door mechanism when the door is open.

Some sectional bookcases manufactured by the Weis Furniture Company, located in Monroe, MI with lift and push-in doors have a modified scissors-type door mechanism similar to that present in Globe-Wernicke bookcases (see Fig. 1).  The scissors mechanism (crossing metal bands) is attached to the top of door and the back section by eye screws.  In addition, these bookcases often have an inset wood panel (0.25” thick) that extends the full width and nearly the full depth of the stack (Fig. 6).  This inset wood panel hides the scissors mechanism and keeps books from getting caught on the metal bands when the door is opened and closed.  However, it also limits the height of the books that can be placed in any particular section.  In other Weis sectional bookcases, at the front top of each wood side piece in a stack there is an inset metal peg that projects approximately 3/8” outward from the wood side pieces.  This peg serves as a ‘stop’ that is caught by a metal elbow bracket that is attached to the top back of the door and stops the door prior to rotating the door vertically to close the book section (Fig. 6).

figure6a

Figure 6.  Internal view of one side of a stack in a Weis sectional bookcase (circa 1915-1925) showing the metal elbow bracket and metal peg that were used catch the door when it was closed.  The figure also illustrates the thin wood panel that was used by some manufacturers to protect the metal bands in the scissors mechanism (see Fig. 1) from being bent by books when they were placed into or removed from the book stack.

Manufacturers Of Sectional Bookcases (in alphabetical order)

The prices listed below for each individual company that manufactured sectional bookcases were compiled between 1999 and 2003.

DANNER Manufacturing Company, Canton, Ohio

A. History

The John Danner Manufacturing Company was founded in the very late 1800's (1890-1900) by John H. Danner in Canton, Ohio.  Woods used in sectional bookcases include oak, walnut, mahogany, and possibly other types of woods.  He, or his father, also founded the Imperial Plow Works around 1875.

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1) The easiest way to identify a Danner sectional bookcase is to look for the stenciled trademark on the back which often says 'TRADE MARK DANNER' or 'TRADE MARK DANNER PAT. APPLIED FOR' in black letters.

2) One distinguishing feature of many Danner bookcases and other pieces of office furniture they made are the oak framed sliding glass doors (i.e. sectional file cabinets with horizontal sliding glass doors).  This contrasts with most other stacking bookcase manufacturers which employed lift-up glass door fronts.

3) Individual Danner book sections are also much taller (18-24") than those made by other manufacturers.

4) Some Danner bookcases do have desk, or secretary, sections as well as drawer sections

5) Base sections often have an ogee (i.e. curved, wavy, or s-shaped) frontal appearance and top sections often have a curved roll-type appearance similar to Globe-Wernicke bookcases described below.

6) Mission oak-style bookcases have box-like base and top sections.

7) The Danner Company is probably most noted for the revolving bookcases they manufactured.  Most of the Danner revolving bookcases that I have seen have an oak Mission-style appearance that was very popular between 1900 and 1920.

C. Prices

Sectional Bookcases

1) Oak 2-stack bookcase with a 1-drawer base section, 2 book sections with oak framed sliding glass doors, and oak Mission-style top section—$1,650.00 (Retail)

2) Oak 2-stack book case—$1,495.00 (Retail)

3) Oak 3-stack bookcase with 3 book sections with oak framed sliding glass doors; each bookcase stack is approximately 24" high with an adjustable shelf—$2,195.00 (Retail)

4) Oak 3-stack bookcase with 7-drawer base section, desk section, and 2-door leaded glass book section—$2,950.00 (Retail)

5) Oak 3-stack bookcase with a 1-drawer base section and a flush-type top section.  One of the stacks has horizontal sliding glass doors while the other two stacks have blind horizontal sliding doors.  The base and top section do not appear to match the stack sections (11.5” x 37” x 58.5” high)—$1,760.00 (Retail)

Revolving Bookcases

1) Mahogany revolving bookcase with file drawers (30" x 30" x 54" tall)—$5,500.00 (Retail)

2) Oak Mission-style revolving bookcase (18" x 18" x 32.5" tall)—Price Not Available (Retail)

3) Oak Mission-style revolving bookcase (25.75" x 26.5" x 36" tall)—$895.00 (Retail)

4) Oak (quarter sawn) Mission-style revolving bookcase (20" x 20" x 45" high)—$1,350.00 (Retail)

5) Walnut revolving bookcase (22.5" x 22.5" x 50" tall)—$1,950.00 (Retail)

6) Oak (quarter sawn) Mission-style revolving bookcase (20" x 20" x 45" tall)—$1,350.00 (Retail)

7) Oak Mission-style revolving bookcase (20" x 20" x 45" high)—$400.00 (Auction)

8) Oak Mission-style revolving book case (20" x 20" x 45" tall)—Auction (no price available)

GLOBE Furniture Company, Cincinnati, Ohio

A. History

The Globe Files Company of Cincinnati, Ohio was founded in the early 1880's (circa 1882). In the late 1800’s, The Globe Company manufactured various types and styles of office furniture including desks as well as letter- and legal-size file cabinets.  These could be single piece file cabinets with 3-5 drawers or sectional file cabinets that could include both single drawer and (or) multi-drawer (i.e. 4" x 6" index card-type drawers) stacks or units. It is recognized for having introduced the first vertical file cabinet, now enshrined in the Smithsonian as the prototype of the modern vertical file cabinet.

The Globe Company joined/merged with Otto H. L. Wernicke in 1904 to form the Globe-Wernicke Company.

GLOBE-WERNICKE Company, Cincinnati, Ohio

A. History

The Globe-Wernicke Company was formed in 1904 by the combination of The Globe Company and Otto H. L. Wernicke of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Woods used in sectional bookcases include quarter sawn oak, plain oak, mahogany, imitation mahogany, walnut, and imitation walnut.

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1) The easiest way to identify a Globe-Wernicke sectional bookcase is to look for a paper label (approx. 2" x 3.5" or 3" x 4.5") on the inside lower back of each section.  The paper label often has the following information:  'MANUFACTURED BY The Globe-Wernicke Co.; Cincinnati, O.; BRANCHES OR AGENCIES EVERYWHERE; PATENTED; SIZE C-11; GRADE 298'.  The exact size and data on the paper label is not always the same.  The C-11 refers to the size (height) of the book section.  In this case it is a stack that can hold 11" high books.

2) The size of individual stacks varies of course but most of the time they are C-11 (for books up to 11" high) or D-12 (for books up to 12" high).

3) Metal (steel) bands at the bottom of each side of a section with a bracket for a metal slide to secure multiple sections together vertically is very common in Globe-Wernicke bookcases.

4) Plywood-like 'laminated' wood lining on the internal sides and bottom which also forms the 'stops' for the glass door when it is closed.

5) Crossing diagonal metal (steel) bands are attached (the two ends of each metal band fit into eye screws) to the inside top of the glass door and the back inside of a section that help move the glass door when it is opened or closed.  The crossing metal bands create a scissors-type mechanism that equalizes the movement of the glass door when it is opened or closed and keeps it functioning smoothly.

6) Base sections often have an ogee (i.e. s-curved or wavy) frontal appearance with, or without, a drawer and are approximately 7 inches high.  Other types of base sections include Queen Anne-style and Mission-style

7) Top sections usually have a curved or roll-type appearance and are approximately 3 inches high.  Other types of top sections include Mission-style.

8) Book sections are built as a single unit (i.e. they do not break down into individual pieces).

C. Prices for Globe-Wernicke Bookcases

Half-size

1) Oak 'half-size' 4-stack bookcase with leaded glass doors—$2,695.00 (Retail)

2) Oak 'half-size' 5-stack with ogee (s-shaped) base section and roll-type top section—$2,800 (Auction)

Three-quarter-size

1) Oak ‘three-quarter-size’ 5-stack with ogee base section and roll-type top section.  Made in London. (10.5” x 23.5” x 76” high)—$2,950.00 (Retail)

3-Stack

1) Oak 3-stack with ogee (s-shaped) base section and roll-type top section—$750.00 Canadian $'s (Retail)

4-Stack

1) Mahogany 4-stack with leaded glass doors and a drawer base section—$2,995.00 (Retail)

2) English walnut 4-stack with roll-type top section and Queen Anne-type base section—No Price (Retail)

3) Cherry 4-stack with flush base (mission-style) with slightly tapered legs and flush (box-appearing) top that might also be considered mission-style (11.5” x 34” x 66” tall)—$859.00 (Retail)  Note:  This bookcase may have been made for a government agency.

4) Oak 4-stack with Mission-style base and top sections—$875.00 (Retail)

5) Oak 4-stack with roll-type top section and ogee (s-shaped) base section—$1,175.00 (Retail)

6) Oak 4-stack with ogee (s-shaped) base section and roll-type top section—$1,350 Canadian $'s (Retail)

7) Oak 4-stack with Mission-style base section, roll-type top section, and 1 book section with a leaded glass door—$985.00 (Retail)

8) Oak 4-stack with ogee (s-shaped) base section and roll-type top section—$550.00 (Auction)

9) Oak 4-stack with ogee (s-shaped) base section with a drawer and roll-type top section—$600.00 (Auction)

10) Oak 4-stack (circa 1915) with ogee (s-shaped) base section (12.25" x 34.25" x 60.25" tall)—No price or picture (Auctioneers estimate was $600.00)

11) Refinished Oak 4-stack (quarter-sawn) with ogee (s-shaped) base section and roll-type top section (10" x 34" x 61.5" high)—$1,175.00 (Retail)

12) Oak 4-stack (original finish) with ogee base section and roll-type top section—$550.00 (Auction)

13) Oak 4-stack with ogee base section and roll-type top section.  Step-back bookcase with 2 deeper stacks (12”) on bottom and 2 less deep (11”) stacks on top. (12” x 34” x 62” high)—$1,550.00 (Retail)

5-Stack

1) Oak 5-stack—$1,795.00 (Retail)

2) Oak 5-stack with ogee (s-shaped) base section and roll-type top section (11.25" x 34.25" x 70" tall)—$1,300.00 (Retail)

3) Oak 5-stack with ogee (s-shaped) base section and roll-type top section with original glass in doors.  The back of one of the sections had been replaced when it was refinished.  This bookcase had been recently refinished as of 3/9/03—$900.00 (Auction, this price does not include the 10% buyers premium of $90 in this instance.)

6-Stack

  1. Oak 6-stack including five C-11 stacks and one C-9 1/2 stack with ogee (s-shaped) base section and roll-type top section with original glass in doors.  This bookcase had been recently refinished as of 3/9/03  (10" x 34" x 87" tall)—$1,200.00 (Auction, this price does not include the 10% buyers premium of $120 in this instance.)

2)  Oak 6-stack with no base and roll-type top section (10.5” x 34” x 70” tall)—$1,500.00 (Retail)

GUNN Furniture Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Originally, William S. Gunn started with a hardware store in Grand Rapids to which he added a retail furniture department in 1874.  The Gunn Furniture Company was established and incorporated by William S. Gunn as the Gunn Folding Bed Company in 1890 and the name was changed in 1893 to The Gunn Furniture Company.  It was purchased by Edsko Hekman and associates in 1949 and was subsequently acquired by Bergma Bothers, Inc. in 1953.  The first company products were folding beds but by 1896 the company also made oak desks, sectional bookcases, sectional file cabinets (letter and invoice filing systems), and other similar goods.

A. Identifying Features and Styles

1) Look for the word(s) GUNN or GUNN SECTIONAL BOOKCASE stenciled, or lightly impressed, in the lower center area of the back piece of each section.  The stenciling can be very difficult to see and (or) read in many instances.  Also, keep in mind that the back pieces may have been replaced by a piece of oak plywood since the back pieces often become so warped or bent to the point of being unusable.  As long as this 'replacement' has been done carefully and correctly it should not significantly affect the value of the entire bookcase.

2) A 1/4" wide metal band is attached to both wood side pieces along the inside top of each section. A curved blunt metal tab attached on both ends at the top of the glass door which fits into the space between the metal band and the wood side pieces of each section.

3) There is a metal piece attached by screws to the bottom of each wood side piece at the bottom of each section.  The metal piece has a lip or tongue along its length that fits into a groove in the wood side pieces of the next lower section.

4) The visible presence of a 0.125" (1/8") a wide metal 'band' on each side of the bookcase between adjacent vertical sections.

5) The presence of 1/4" x 1/4" x 8-12" long wood pieces that are attached vertically on both wood side pieces that serve as 'stops' when the glass door is closed.

6) A waterfall-like top section piece (≈3" high) that projects approximately 2" outward above (over) the rest of the bookcase.  Although Gunn made other styles of top sections the waterfall-like top sections are extremely common.

In addition, the top section pieces are the most likely to have an attached faded red triangular sticker that has the letters GRM on it.  The letters stand for 'Grand Rapids Made' and were a registered trade mark for furniture actually made in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the early 1900’s..  These labels were first introduced in 1899 or 1900.  Along the edges of the three sides of the triangle are the following words:  ‘Made in Grand Rapids’, ‘Trade Mark’, and ‘Registered’.  This label was used by all manufacturer’s in the Grand Rapids area that belonged to the Furniture Manufacturer’s Association of Grand Rapids.  Therefore, it can be used as a rough indication of when furniture was made.  The red GRM triangular logo was applied to many pieces of furniture made by member companies of the Furniture Manufacturer’s Association of Grand Rapids between 1899 and about 1913.  However, it was still used by some, but not all, member companies after 1913.

7) A base section piece (≈5" high) that also projects approximately 2" outward from the rest of the bookcase and mirrors the waterfall-like top section. Although Gunn made other styles of base sections, those that mirror image the waterfall-like top sections are extremely common.

8) Knock Down (KD) Construction—This refers to the fact that each book section, or stack, in a Gunn bookcase can be broken down into 5 individual pieces.  These include: 1) bottom shelf piece which is also the top piece of the next lower section; 2) left side piece; 3) right side piece; 4) glass door piece; and 5) back piece.  In addition, Gunn promoted the fact that no tools what-so-ever were required to put the bookcase together.  I can testify that this is true based on personal experience.

B. Bookcase Styles

1) Standard with Waterfall-like Top and Base Sections—Very common

a) Made in quartered white oak, birch imitation mahogany, and genuine mahogany.

b) The depth of all 'Standard' bookcase sections is 12.25 inches.

c) Standard desk section with pigeon holes and drawers may also be present

d) Base section may or may not (more common) have a drawer.

e) Gunn also made 'deep' and 'reducing' book sections in 'Standard' oak.  Deep and reducing sections are somewhat rare in the present-day market and are not often seen.  I have only seen about 3 'Standard' bookcases that have a 'reducing' book section as part of a single bookcase.

f) The Standard style was made earlier than 1907 and probably was continued into the 1930's or 1940's.

2) Plain Oak with Waterfall-like Top and Base Sections—Very common

a) Made in plain oak only.

b) The outside depth of all 'Plain Oak' bookcase sections is 11.25 inches.

c) Base section may or may not (more common) have a drawer.

e) The Plain Oak style was made earlier than 1907 and probably was continued into the 1930's or 1940's.

f) Gunn also made 'deep' and 'reducing' book sections in plain oak.  Deep and reducing sections are somewhat rare in the present-day market and are not often seen.  I have only seen 1 Gunn plain oak bookcase that had a 'reducing' book section as part of a single bookcase.

3) Colonial (Standard Size)

a) Made in quartered white oak and genuine mahogany

b) Includes Colonial book sections, Colonial base section, and Colonial top section.

c) Colonial desk section may also be present.

d) The Colonial style was illustrated in company catalogs by at least 1920 and possibly earlier.

4) Mission

a) Made in quartered white oak and genuine mahogany

b) Includes Mission book sections, Mission base section with or without a drawer, and Mission top section.

c) Mission desk section may also be present.

d) The Mission style was illustrated in company catalogs by at least 1920 and possibly earlier.

5) Queen Anne

a) This style refers to Queen Anne style base sections with or without a drawer.

b) Made in quartered white oak, birch imitation mahogany, and genuine mahogany.

c)  The Queen Anne style was discontinued in the very early 1920's (either 1921 or 1922)

6) Clawfoot

a) This style refers to clawfoot base sections with or without a drawer.

b) Made in quartered white oak, birch imitation mahogany, and genuine mahogany.

c) The Clawfoot style was illustrated in company catalogs by at least 1920 and possibly earlier.

7)  Sanitary Bases and Flush Tops (can be difficult to distinguish from their Mission-style)

a) This style refers to what Gunn called Sanitary bases that have square tapered (1.75" to 1.25") legs on all 4 corners of the base section.  It is what would now often be referred to as Mission-style by many dealers and auctioneers.

b)  Flush top refers to top sections that conform to the depth of the book sections and do not project over (outward from) the rest of the bookcase.  In appearance it is what would now often be referred to as Mission-style by many dealers and auctioneers.

C. Prices for Gunn Bookcases

3-Stack

1) Cherry 3-stack bookcase with waterfall-type base section with a drawer and a waterfall-type top section (10.5" x 39" x 47" tall)—No Price Quoted (Retail).  I suspect this bookcase was custom-made or custom-ordered.

4-Stack

1) Mahogany 4-stack which includes a desk section with waterfall-type top and base sections—$885.00 (Retail)

2) Standard (quarter sawn) oak 4-stack with waterfall-style top section and Queen Anne-style base section with a drawer (12.25" x 34.25" x 68" tall)—$600.00 in 1981 (Retail)

3) Standard (quarter sawn) oak 4-stack with waterfall-style base and top sections (14.5" x 34.5" x 60" tall —No Price (Retail)

4) Standard (quarter sawn) oak 4-stack Mission-style with 1 book section have grill-type glass door with 8 glass panes and 1 desk/secretary section (12" x 35" x 62" tall)—$1,625.00 (Retail)

5) Standard (quarter sawn) oak 4-stack with waterfall-type top section and claw foot base section—$1,700.00 (Retail)

6) Plain (not quarter sawn) oak 4-stack with Sanitary base section and waterfall-style top section (11.25" x 34.25" x 66.25" tall)—$550.00 (Auction)

5-Stack

  1. Standard (quarter sawn) oak 5-stack which includes a desk section, heavy beveled glass in the four glass doors (definitely old glass and probably done when bookcase was first purchased but not 'original' since Gunn did not offer this option), and waterfall-style top and base sections (12.25" x 34.25" x 70.75" tall)—$2,295.00 (Retail).  Note: This is the only Gunn bookcase that I have seen that had beveled glass in the doors.
  2. Plain (not quarter sawn) oak 5-stack with waterfall-style base and top sections (11.25" x 34.25" x 68.25" tall —$1,100.00 (Retail)

3) Oak 5-stack—$1,495.00 (Retail)

6-Stack

1) Standard (quarter sawn) oak 6-stack with waterfall-style top and base sections that also has the original finish.  Individual stacks include 4-11" sections for books up to 9" high, 1-13" section for books up to 11" high, and 1-15" section for books up to 13" high (12.25" x 34.25" x 82" tall)—$1,300.00 (Auction)

F. E. HALE Manufacturing Company, Herkimer, New York

A.  History

The F. E. Hale Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1907 and was the result of Hale purchasing the facility of Horracks Desk Company.  It was formed to exclusively produce and market sectional bookcases that had been designed by F. E. Hale.  Woods used include Oak, Basswood, Cherry, Butternut, Birch, and Walnut.  The company is still in operation at the present time (June, 2000) and is still making sectional bookcases similar to those designed by F. E. Hale in 1907.

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1) Many Hale bookcases have a scissors-type door mechanism similar to those found on Globe-Wernicke and some Macey sectional bookcases.

C. Prices for Hale bookcases

1) Mahogany 5-stack with Mission-style (sometimes referred to as Duncan Phyfe-style) base and top sections circa 1920 (14" x 34.25" x 82" tall)—$2,295.00 (Retail)

HUMPHREY Bookcase Company, Detroit, Michigan

A. History

The Humphrey Bookcase Company was based in Detroit, Michigan between approximately 1907 and 1910.  In approximately 1910 it merged with the J. C. Widman & Co. to form the Humphrey-Widman Company (see below)

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1)  A paper label (approximately 1.75" x 2.75") in the lower center on the inside back of a stack that is white with red lettering and states HUMPHREY SECTIONAL BOOKCASE; MANUFACTURED BY HUMPHREY BOOKCASE CO.; DETROIT, MICH, USA.

  1. I have seen only one bookcases that was unequivocally made by the Humphrey Bookcase Company.

C. Prices

6-Stack

1) Oak 6-stack with 'waterfall-type' base section (similar to Gunn bookcases) and roll, or curved, top section.  This bookcase was in very poor condition with 4 of the 6 glass doors broken and several stacks were 'warped' or 'peeled'.  It had obviously spent a number of years in a barn or other 'out' building with little protection from wind, rain, etc.—$695.00 (Wholesale price to a dealer)

HUMPHREY-WIDMAN, Detroit, Michigan

A. History

Humprey-Widman was the result of the merger of the J.C. Widman & Co. (circa 1907-??) and the Humprey Bookcase Co. (circa 1907-??) both of Detroit, Michigan.  I have not been able to locate much information about the history of the Humphrey-Widman Company of Detroit, MI.  One of the Humprey-Widman sectional bookcases that I have seen (see below) was labeled as being a Humphrey-Widman Sectional Bookcase that was manufactured by the D. Hibner Furniture Company, Limited of Berlin, Ontario, Canada.

B.  Identifying Features and Styles

1) I have seen only three sectional bookcases made by Humprey-Widman (one in Gladewater, TX; a second in Lyons, NE; and the third in Washington, D.C.).  One was an oak 2-stack; the second was a mahogany 3-stack with one of the sections being a secretary unit; and the third was an oak 4-stack.  In general, both were similar to early Gunn, Globe-Wernicke, and Macey sectional bookcases in terms of dimensions, style, and appearance.  All three bookcases had a modified scissor-type mechanism similar to those in Globe-Wernicke bookcases for opening and closing the glass door in each section. In addition, they have an inset piece of wood near the top of each section that separates the scissor mechanism from the book compartment.  The inset wood piece (0.25” thick) extends the full width and depth of the section and is similar in design to those seen in Weis (see below and Fig. 8) sectional bookcases.

2) Woods used in the three sectional bookcases I have seen are oak and mahogany.

C. Prices for Humphrey-Widman bookcases

1) N/A

IMPERIAL Furniture Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan

A. History

The Imperial Furniture Company was founded in 1903 by F. Stuart Foote and was sold to the Bergsma Brothers Company in 1954.  Their first manufactured furniture was extension tables.  This was followed by other types of tables and bookcases.  Most of their furniture was made from mahogany but they also used cherry.  The founder, F. Stuart Foote, claimed to have made the first coffee table in the 1920’s.

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1) I have seen only one book section (oak) or stack that was unequivocally made by the Imperial Furniture Company.  The back of the section had an approximately 3" x 4" paper label that stated 'Imperial Furniture Company Roller Bearing Sectional Bookcase, Grand Rapids, Michigan'.  This section was part of a 3-stack bookcase with the other two stacks labeled as being made by the Globe-Wernicke Company.  My estimate is that this section was made between 1910 and approximately 1925.  This is based, in part, on the style and appearance of the Globe-Wernicke sections in the bookcase.

C. Prices for Imperial bookcases

1)  N/A

C. J. LUNDSTROM Manufacturing Company, Little Falls, New York

A. History

I have not (as of November, 2001) been able to locate much historical information about the Lundstrom Manufacturing Company of Little Falls, New York.  They were in business from circa 1900 to circa 1960 and were contemporaneous with other major manufacturers of sectional bookcases.  This is based on attached paper tags or labels with patent dates that are present on some Lundstrom book sections (see below) as well as dated catalogs they published.  Woods used in their sectional bookcases include oak, mahogany, and walnut.  Products they manufactured included sectional bookcases and filing cabinets.

Carl J. Lundstrom was born in Stockholm, Sweden and was a patent attorney when he first moved to Little Falls, NY.  He patented a sectional bookcase design in the very early 1900’s (circa 1900) and purchased the Saxony Mill in 1901.  Presumably he spent the next 3 years getting financial backing to make sectional bookcases and other wood products because he did not move into the Saxony Mill until 1904.  In addition to sectional bookcases Lundstrom manufactured end tables, filing cabinets, and Victrola cabinets for the Victor Talking Machine Company.  C. J. Lundstrom died on April 17, 1943 and his son, Valfrid, was president of the company until 1958.

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1) The easiest way to identify a Lundstrom bookcase is to look for one of several ways they marked, or identified, their book sections or stacks.  These include:

a) a small metal tage (approximately 0.375" x 1.75") or a bakelite tag (approximately 0.375" x 1.25") on the front of the top section that states "LUNDSTROM" LITTLE FALLS, N.Y.  The bakelite tags indicate that the bookcase was made after about 1910.  Bakelite was first developed in 1909 and consists of a series of thermosetting plastics prepared by heating penol or cresol with formaldehyde and ammmonia under pressure.

b) individual book sections can sometimes be identified by a black stenciling (approximately 1" x 3") on the inside back of each section that states "LUNDSTROM" LITTLE FALLS, N.Y.; and

c) the back of the book sections may have an attached paper label (approximately 2.5" x 4") that identifies it as being a:  LUNDSTROM SECTIONAL BOOKCASE; Pat. June 14, 1904; June 11, 1907; Nov. 3, 1914; Manufactured by C. J. Lundstrom Mfg. Co.; Little Falls, N.Y., U.S.A. The listed patent dates, of course, will vary depending on exactly when the book section was manufactured.

2) A Lundstrom sectional bookcase can often be distinguished by the fact that it has no metal strap on the outside (Globe-Wernicke) or metal plate (Gunn) between the book sections.

3) Pegs in the top of the side pieces on an individual book section project upward and fit into peg holes in the bottom of each individual book section.

4) Along the top of the two side pieces a metal rod through the back of the book section extends to the front of the section which has a right angle bend and then fits into a small hole in the side pieces.  There is also a small 'washer' on the front end of the metal rod which acts as a roller for the glass door.  A short metal rod with a right angle bend is attached on both ends at the top of the glass door.  The metal rod on the glass door fits into the space between the metal rod through the back of the book section and the wood side pieces themselves.

5) Book sections form a single unit (they do not break down like Gunn bookcases).

6) Bookcase styles include mission-style 'box-like' appearance (i.e. Arts & Crafts style).

7) Base sections often have an ogee (i.e. s-curved or wavy) frontal appearance with, or without, a drawer and are approximately 5 inches high.

8) Top sections often have a 'waterfall' appearance (similar to top sections of some Gunn bookcases-see above) that projects approximately 2" outward above (over) the rest of the bookcase and are approximately 4 inches high.  Although Lundstrom made other styles of top sections the waterfall-like top sections are quite common.

C. Prices for Lundstrom bookcases

2-Stack

1) Oak 2-stack with ogee-type (s-shaped) base section and waterfall-like top section (12" x 34" x 43.125" tall)—$295.00 (Auction)

4-Stack

1) Mahogany 4-stack—$725.00 (Auction)

2) Oak 4-stack with Mission-style top and base sections that are also quite similar in appearance to Gunn Sanitary Base and Flush Top sections (11" x 33.75" x 56.25" tall)—$550.00 (Auction)

3) Oak 4-stack with ogee base section and 'waterfall' top section.  Individual stacks include 2-11.5" stacks for books up to 9" high and 2-15.5" stacks for books up to 13" high (12" x 33.75" x 63" high)—$800.00 (Auction).

6-Stack

1) Oak (quarter sawn) 6-stack including 2 drawer sections, 1 desk section, 2 glass-front book sections, 1 solid door book section, ogee (s-shaped) base section, and waterfall-style top section (14" x 33.5" x 70" tall)—$2,650.00 (Retail)

2) Oak 6-stack with ogee base section and 'waterfall' top section.  Individual stacks include 6-11.5" stacks for books up to 9" high (12" x 33.75" x 78" high)—$850.00 (Auction).

The MACEY Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan

A. History

The Fred Macey Furniture Company was founded in 1896 and merged with the Wernicke Company in 1905. The merged companies were known as the Macey-Wernicke Company until 1908 when the name was simplified to The Macey Company.  It closed in 1940 after filing for bankruptcy in 1937.  Woods used in sectional bookcases include oak, mahogany, imitation mahogany, and imitation walnut.

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1) The easiest way to identify a Macey sectional bookcase is to look for a Macey 'stamp' on the underside of the top section or a paper label/stamp (approx. 2" x 3.5") on the inside lower back of each section.  From approximately 1896 to 1908 the company used a script-type Macey 'stamp' with a tail on the y that 'underlined' the letters a, c, and e in the word Macey and with the word 'trade mark' after the y in Macey.  After approximately 1908 the company used a logo with script-type Macey surrounded by a black or solid colored oval.

2) Early Macey (to approximately 1908) bookcases usually have a distinctive glass door sliding mechanism consisting of a sprocket and track.  A sprocket or toothed wheel 'runs' on a track (also toothed) that is attached to the upper inside on both sides of the book section.

3) Many of the identifying features and styles of other early (1905-1920) Macey sectional bookcases are the same as Globe-Wernicke bookcases.  This is due, in no small measure, to the fact that the Wernicke Company (owned by Otto H. L. Wernicke) merged with the Fred Macey Furniture Company in 1905.  Otto was an officer of the merged company (briefly known as Macey-Wernicke Company from 1905 to 1908 and then simplified to The Macey Company in 1908) and eventually became President of the company from 1909 to 1916 when he retired from active involvement.  In addition, Otto also helped form the Globe-Wernicke Company in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1904.  So a similarity in the appearance and style of Wernicke, Macey, and Globe-Wernicke sectional bookcases should come as no surprise.  There were law suits and counter law suits between Globe-Wernicke and Macey over the use of the patents of Otto H. L. Wernicke.  This should also come as no surprise given Otto's involvement in several different companies at the same time.

4) See the Globe-Wernicke section for a description of some of the more common identifying features of early Macey sectional bookcases including the scissors mechanism for the glass doors.

5) Thus, without an identifying paper label, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish an early (1905-1920) Macey sectional bookcase from an early Globe-Wernicke sectional bookcase of the same time period.

6) Book sections form a single unit (i.e. they do not break down).

C. Prices for Macey bookcases

Half-size

1) Oak 3-stack 'half-size' bookcase with leaded, beveled glass doors (≈13" x ≈13" x ??" tall)— No Price (Auction)

2) Oak 4-stack 'half-size' bookcase with leaded, beveled glass doors; lowermost stack is a 'reducing' stack slightly deeper that other 3 stacks (≈12" x ≈12" x 60" tall)—$1,775.00 (Retail)

3) Oak 5-stack 'half-size' bookcase with plain glass doors (≈13" x ≈13" x ??" tall)— $1.500.00 (Auction)

Double-wide

1) Mahogany Mission-style (i.e. Arts & Crafts style) double-wide 4-stack sectional bookcase with 3 wood 'dividers' in each glass door so that each glass door actually has 4 glass panes (13" x 48" x 61" tall)—$3,595.00 (Retail)

2) Mahogany double-wide 4-stack sectional bookcase with empire styled scrolled columns on the base stack and foot section; half round columns on other three stacks (49.5" x 15" x 55.5" tall)—$2,500.00 (Retail)

3) Mahogany double-wide 5-stack sectional bookcase—$2,000.00 (Auction)

2-Stack

1) Oak refinished 2-stack sectional bookcase with s-shaped (ogee) base section, roll-type top section, and 2 glass lift-type doors (34" x ±13" x 39" tall)—No Price/Sold (Retail)  Note:  The picture of this bookcase, although it is referred to as being a 'Macey' could actually be a Globe-Wernicke.

3-Stack

1) Mahogany Empire-style 3-stack bookcase, base section has claw or paw legs, each stack has a half round column on both front corners and paneled sides (48" x 13.5" x 48" high)—$2,150.00 (Retail)

2) Oak (Macey in oval, therefore made after 1908) 3-stack bookcase (original finish) with ogee base section and roll-type top section—$450.00 (Auction)

4-Stack

1) Oak 4-stack sectional bookcase with Queen Anne-style leg base section, mission- or flush-style top section, metal bands at the base on either side of each stack, and track and cog roll bar door mechanism, the 'sprocket and track' system (34" x 12" x 62" tall)—$1,595 (Retail)

2) Quarter sawn oak 4-stack bookcase with Queen Anne-style leg base section and desk section (34" x ±14" x 57" tall)—Price on Request (Retail)

3) Oak (Macey in oval, therefore made after 1908) 4-stack with roll-type top section and drawer base section—$950.00 (Retail)

4) Quarter sawn oak 4-stack bookcase (34" x 12" x 56.5" high)—No Price (Auction)

5) Oak 4-stack bookcase with ogee (s-shaped) base section, roll-type top section, bookcase sections have cog wheel door mechanism, backs of bookcase sections have been replaced, and ogee base section is a reproduction of an original base section—$2,250.00 (Retail)

6) Oak 4-stack bookcase with claw-foot base section and roll-type top section.  All 4 sections have leaded bevel glass doors (34” x 11” x 61” high)—$2,750.00 (Retail)

6-Stack

1) Oak 6-stack sectional bookcase with ogee base section, roll-type top section, metal bands at the base on either side of each stack, and sprocket and track  door mechanism, the 'sprocket and track' system that is circa 1905-1908.  Also has 1905 and 1906 patent dates impressed on underside of all sections.  This bookcase had been recently refinished as of 3/9/03 (11.5” x 34” x 88” high)—$1,300 (Auction, this price does not include the 10% buyers premium of $130 in this instance.)

2) Oak 6-stack sectional bookcase with ogee base section and roll-type top section (Overall dimensions not known)—$2,250.00 (Retail)

NEW ENGLAND FURNITURE Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan

A. History

The New England Furniture (1881-1904) was originally founded in 1880 as the Ward, Skinner & Books.  The name was changed to New England Furniture Company in 1881.  In 1902 the company was reorganized and the name was changed to the Grand Rapids Furniture Company (1902-1957).  The last production sold with New England Furniture Company labeling was in 1904.

In the 1880's and early 1890's the company specialized in the production of cheap and medium-grade bedroom furniture and chamber suites.  In the mid-1890's the company went to the production of Golden Oak sideboards, buffets, china cabinets, and sectional bookcases.  Around the turn of the century (≈1900) the company was also producing Mission-style furniture.

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1) I have seen only 1 stacking bookcase (a 3-stack bookcase) with a New England Furniture Company label.  Unfortunately, that 'sighting' was before I started keeping notes on the appearance, construction, and identifying features of stacking bookcases.  All that I can vaguely remember is that its external appearance and style was somewhat similar to Globe-Wernicke and Macey sectional bookcases and that it was definitely labeled 'New England Furniture Company'.

C. Prices for New England bookcases

1) Oak 3-stack bookcase—$750 (Auction)

VIKING Sectional Bookcase, Skandia Furniture Company, Rockford, Illinois

A. History

The Viking Sectional Bookcase was made by the Skandia Furniture Company of Rockford, Illinois.  The company was organized in February, 1889 with Pehr August Peterson as president.   They produced a variety of furniture including desks, secretaries, tables, and cabinets as well as sectional bookcases. Viking was used as a trade name by Skandia.

I have not found a lot of information concerning Viking bookcases although they were manufactured contemporaneously with other major manufacturers (circa 1900-1930).  The few Viking bookcases that I have seen have all been made with oak.

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1)  Look for a 2.5” x 4” black paper tag with gold or white lettering located on the inside center of the back piece of an individual stack.  If legible, the tag may have some or all of the following information:   “THE VIKING SECTIONAL BOOKCASE; PAT NOV. 14, 06; PAT DEC. 4, 06; PAT AUG. 4, 08; SKANDIA FURNITURE COMPANY; ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS”.

  1. The base and top sections often have a sculptured appearance that is somewhat similar to Gunn bookcases.
  2. Viking bookcases often have an inset piece of wood near the top of each section that separates the door mechanism from the book compartment.  The inset wood piece (0.25” thick) extends the full width and depth of the section.  This keeps the books from getting caught on the door mechanism when the glass door is opened and closed.  The inset wood piece is similar to those seen in Weis (see below and Fig. 8) sectional bookcases.

C. Prices for Viking bookcases

3-Stack

1) Oak 3-stack Mission-style with drawer base section and roll-type top section—No Price (Auction)

5-Stack

1) Oak (quarter sawn) 5-stack (each stack is 13" tall) with leg-type base section and waterfall-type (sculptured appearance) top section quite similar to those found on Lundstrom sectional bookcases.  A small bead is cut in the wood at each joint where the stacks meet (join) on each side.  The door mechanism consists of a metal band that slides inside a track and retracts as you push the door in.  (13" x 34" x 85" tall)—$2,200.00 (Retail)

2) Oak 5-stack with waterfall-type (sculptured) base and top sections.  Each stack has an inset wood piece (0.25” thick) that extends the full width and depth of the section.  This inset wood piece separates the door mechanism from the book compartment.  The style is similar to that described for Weis sectional bookcases (see below).  The door mechanism is also similar to Weis bookcases.  (11” x 34” x 67” high)—No Price Tag (Retail)

WEIS Furniture Company, Monroe, Michigan

A. History

The Weis Furniture Company was based in Monroe, Michigan until 1963 when the La-Z-Boy Chair Company purchased the Weis facility.  It was contemporary with other office furniture companies of the period (1910-1950) and manufactured stacking bookcases along with other office-related items.  Probably the most common Weis manufactured items that are seen today are the small wood index card holders for 3” x 5” or 4” x 6” index cards.  They often have the Weis name on the top in a script type style.

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1) A label (approximately 0.875" x 1.5") that is red with a gold border and states WEIS in gold script and MONROE, MICH in gold letters.

  1. A few Weis Company sectional bookcases that I have seen have horizontal sliding glass doors somewhat similar to those made by the Danner Manufacturing Company (see above).
  2. One Weis stacking bookcase that I have seen also had a drawer unit or stack.
  3. Weis stacking bookcases with lift and push-back glass doors have a modified scissors door mechanism similar to that found in Globe-Wernicke bookcases.  The scissors mechanism (crossing metal bands) is attached to the top of door and the back section by eye screws.  In addition, these bookcases have an inset wood piece (0.25” thick) that extends the full width and depth of the section.  This inset wood piece hides the scissors mechanism and keeps books from getting caught on the metal bands.  However, it also limits the height of the books that can be placed in any particular section.  At the front top of the side pieces of each section is an inset metal peg.  This peg serves as a ‘stop’ that is caught by a metal elbow catch that is attached to the top back of the door and stops the door prior to rotating the door vertically to close the book section.  In addition, these stacking bookcases also have an inset metal peg that projects upward approximately 0.375 inch at the front top of each entire section.  The metal peg fits into a hole in the front bottom of the next higher section thus securing the two sections together.

C. Prices

4-Stack

1) Refinished oak 4-stack bookcase (1901 patent) including 3 bookcase stacks with unframed sliding glass doors and 1 drawer section; water fall-like base section; and flush roll-type top section (11" x 34" x 48" high)—$1,200.00 (Retail)

5-Stack

  1. Oak 5-stack bookcase with a drawer base section; book sections have a scissors-type door mechanism similar to that found in Globe-Wernicke bookcases (12" x 34" x 73.5" high)—$1,175.00 (Retail)
  2. Oak 5-stack bookcase with base that has Queen Anne-style legs and roll-type top section (circa 1915-1925).  The door mechanism consists of a modified scissors mechanism with inset metal pegs.  There is a wood ‘divider’ that separates the door mechanism at the top of each section from the actual book compartment of each section.  Inset metal pegs are present at the top of each side piece which serves as a ‘stop’ that is ‘caught’ by a metal elbow piece that is attached to the top inside of both sides of each stack. (12” x 34” x 75” high). —$900.00 (Auction, this price does not include the 10% buyers premium of $90 in this instance.)

WERNICKE Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A. History

The Wernicke Company was located in Minneapolis from 1893-1897.  It was founded by Otto H. L. Wernicke who moved the company to Grand Rapids, MI in 1897 (see below) and then merged with the Fred Macey Furniture Company (see Macey above) in approximately 1905. He also helped form the Globe-Wernicke Company in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1904 (see Globe-Wernicke above).

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1) I have seen only 1 book section (oak) that was unquestionably made by the Wernicke Company of Minneapolis, MN and I own it.  It does not have a glass door and the inside bottom and sides are single pieces of wood rather than plywood-type material (see Globe-Wernicke above).  However, the sides and bottom pieces still form a 'frame' or stops for the glass door when it is closed.

2) There are fairly heavy solid cast metal straps at the bottom on each side of the section with a slot for a vertical flat metal connector to tie multiple sections together vertically.  The cast metal 'strap' on the lower left side of the section is marked/stamped with 'The Wernicke System Trade Mark, Minneapolis, Minn.  In addition, on the outside back of the section is stenciled 'The Wernicke Company of Minneapolis, MN' in black letters.

C. Prices

1)

WERNICKE Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan

A.  History

The Wernicke Company was located in Grand Rapids from 1898 to 1905.  Otto H. L. Wernicke moved the company to Grand Rapids from Minneapolis, MN (see above) and then merged with the Fred Macey Furniture Company (see Macey above) in approximately 1905.  He also helped form the Globe-Wernicke Company in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1904 (see Globe-Wernicke above).

B. Identifying Features and Styles

1) The easiest way to identify a Wernicke Bookcase made in Grand Rapids is to look for the stamped, or impressed 'label' centered on the lower inside back piece of each stack.  The 'label' usually includes the following information:  'Wernicke System "Elastic" Bookcase; (TRADE MARKS); PATENTED; UNITED STATES, DEC.6-92; UNITED STATES, APR.7-96; UNITED STATES, JUL.21-96; GREAT BRITAIN, APR.7-95; BELGIUM, APR.7-95; FRANCE, APR.7-95; AUSTRIA, NOV.24-96; CANADA, MAR.1-97; The Wernicke Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. U.S.A.; C-11; 298; 530'.  The C-11 refers to the size of the stack, the 298 refers to the grade, and the 530 probably refers to the model number or style number of the stack.

2) The size of individual stacks varies but most of the ones I have seen are C-11 (for books up to 11" high), D-121/4 (for books up to 12.25" high), or sections for books up to 9 1/2" high.

3) Metal (steel) bands on the outside bottom of the side pieces with a bracket for a metal slide to secure multiple sections together vertically is very common in all Wernicke or Globe-Wernicke sectional bookcases.

4) The one base section that I have seen that is unequivocally made by Wernicke of Grand Rapids, Mich. is a simple rectangular box-like shape (13.5" deep x 34" x 7" high).

5) Top sections usually have a curved or roll-type appearance and are approximately 3 inches high and are similar in appearance to Globe-Wernicke top sections (see Globe-Wernicke above).  However, Wernicke of Grand Rapids top sections have the same patent information stamped (see above #1), or impressed, on the underneath side of the top section.

6) Book sections are built as a single unit (i.e. they do not break down into individual pieces).

7) The door mechanism consists of a small oval-shaped cast metal bracket with small hollow 'hump' on it attached to back of each door and each side piece of a stack has a small inset metal peg on the upper front.  When the door is pulled out the hollow 'hump' on the metal bracket catches the metal peg and the door can then be rotated and closed.

8) I have only seen Wernicke of Grand Rapids stacks as part of a 'mixed' sectional bookcase.  Usually these 'mixed' sectional bookcases have sections from Wernicke of Grand Rapids along with Globe-Wernicke of Cincinnati book sections.

9) I have never seen an entire sectional bookcase that is solely composed of book sections, a base, and a top that is made only by Wernicke of Grand Rapids.  This should not be surprising given the interchangeable nature of book sections made by Wernicke of Minneapolis, Wernicke of Grand Rapids, Macey-Wernicke of Grand Rapids, and Globe-Wernicke of Cincinnati.

C. Prices for Wernicke of Grand Rapids bookcases

1)  In general, the price for most sectional bookcases that contain Wernicke of Grand Rapids stacks is the same as for Globe-Wernicke or Macey-Wernicke sections or any other manufacturer of sectional bookcases.
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