Arts & Mysteries: Bookstand: A William & Mary Rarity


A maximum skills test using minimal materials.
By Charles Bender
Page: 24-26

From the November 2010 issue # 186
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Important books have long been a symbol of education and wealth in Western culture since before Gutenberg rolled out his first Bible. Up until the mid-17th century, the fact that someone could read was usually a significant status symbol – and even today, important books often denote elite status. Naturally, if you owned an important book, you wanted a way to display it so everyone could see it. Enter the ever-enterprising cabinetmaker.

After you’ve studied furniture as long as I have, you begin to look for pieces to build that are unique and rare. This bookstand is definitely one rarity worth a second look by any scholar and/or woodworker.

Bookstands are scarce in any period, but William & Mary bookstands are particularly rare. It’s very possible this is because fine book ownership was rare during the period.

The thing that struck me most when I first saw this bookstand was the maker’s sense of style. Whoever made it not only was aware of the latest construction techniques (note that the body of the piece is essentially a dovetailed box instead of a mortise-and-tenon frame), but also had an understanding of William & Mary design.  The ball feet and cyma curves of the apron put this piece squarely in the realm of a professional cabinetmaker working in the most fashionable taste.

Video: Think you have dovetails figured out? Watch Frank Klausz work his magic.
Article: Continue with Frank Klausz to learn to master the mortise and tenon.
Web site: Take a detailed and in-depth look at Thomas Jefferson’s bookstand.
To buy: Learn more about William & Mary furniture in our April 2010 issue (#182).
In our store: Pick up a DVD on turning basics to get started in the right direction.


From the November 2010 issue # 186
Buy this issue now