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Things We Love: Barrister Bookcases

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Things We Love: Barrister Bookcases

We’re introducing a new spotlight where we’ll be showcasing some vintage “Things We Love!” This month, we’re highlighting Barrister Bookcases. 

We’re introducing a new spotlight where we’ll be showcasing some vintage “Things We Love!” Each month, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite items we collect and curate, and shining a light on what makes them unique. 


This month, we’re highlighting Barrister Bookcases



History of Barrister Bookcases

Barrister bookcases became popular in the mid-to-late 19th century, and were born out of necessity. Barristers (lawyers) needed a strong, portable option for transporting their reference books and materials as they followed judges on their circuit, from chamber to chamber and from court to court. This meant that the bookcases not only needed to handle heavy loads and protect books across frequent moves, but also match the elegant aesthetic of a law office. 


Their unique design allowed not only for efficient mobility, but most also included glass frontage and door mechanisms on each shelf to provide protection from dust during travel and deter people from touching or taking the tomes or trinkets housed within. 




Barrister Bookcases in the Modern Age

Lauded for both sophistication and practicality, this function forward design is still popular today, and with good reason. Barrister bookcases were one of the first mass-produced, modular types of furniture, often constructed from oak, walnut or mahogany, with self-contained shelving units that stacked on top of each other within a free-standing bookcase. 


These built-to-last bookcases are easy to move, and many have shelves that are interchangeable with units of varying heights and depths, allowing for versatility in configuring the units. And for those bookcases that feature glass frontage, the glass can range from simple panes to intricate stained glass, adding vintage elegance as well as some protection for the items housed within from dirt, dust, pets, and more.  


Their role has also expanded from their original purpose of housing large collections of books. Here are just a few creative ways to incorporate a barrister bookcase into the modern home:


— Music & Media Collections

— Precious China or Dishware Items

— Photographs and memorabilia

— Antiques & 

— Shoe Showcase  

— Mini-Bar 


We can’t get enough of them at GoodWood, and are especially delighted when we can get our hands on units from Globe Wernicke, an American furniture company that was founded in 1893 out of Cincinnati, OH. Globe Wernicke used to offer their barrister bookcases via catalog, and you could customize your order by color and stack size.

When we find these iconic bookcases, they always go fast, so make sure you’re following us on Instagram to see our latest finds! 

GoodWood is located in the Marden Building on the corner of U St NW & Waverly Place. We are located next to CityFirst Bank.

We look forward to seeing you!

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