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Wharton, Edith (1862-1937); Codman Jr., Ogden (1863-1951) / The decoration of houses
(1898)

XII: the library, smoking-room, and "den",   pp. 145-154


Page 145

                              XII
THE LIBRARY, SMOKING-ROOM, AND "DEN"
IN the days when furniture was defined as "that which may be
  carried about," the natural bookcase was a chest with a strong
lock.  These chests, packed with precious manuscripts, followed
the prince or noble from one castle to another, and were even car-
ried after him into camp.  Before the invention of printing, when
twenty or thirty books formed an exceptionally large library, and
many great personages were content with the possession of one
volume, such ambulant bookcases were sufficient for the require-
ments of the most eager bibliophile.  Occasionally the volumes
were kept in a small press or cupboard, and placed in a chest only
wh~~ their owner travelled; but the bookcase, as now known,
did not take shape until much later, for when books multiplied
with the introduction of printing, it became customary to fit up
for their reception little rooms called cabinets.  In the famous cab-
met of Catherine de' Medici at Blois the walls are lined with book-
shelves concealed behind sliding panels - a contrivance rendered
doubly necessary by the general insecurity of property, and by the
fact that the books of that period, whether in manuscript or
printed, were made sumptuous as church jewelry by the art of
painter and goldsmith.
 Long after the establishment of the printing-press, books, ex-
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