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Home library – a prose description

I have posted many images of various home libraries and their furnishings. It gives me special pleasure, however, to reproduce this piece of prose that speaks to the heart of a true book lover using a more familiar medium — the written word. This fragment is from Uncle Hiram’s Library by ‘Cousin Hannah’. It appeared in  Merry’s museum and Parley’s magazine in 1857. The description is both idyllic and romantic, with everything that makes a great home library briefly mentioned…

A bright fire is burning in the library fireplace, and oh, how pleasant the blazing logs look, what a bright cheerful light they make when twilight comes on! On every side of the room are well-filled book-cases, reaching almost up to the ceiling. A large study table is in the middle of the room, covered with Uncle’s books and papers, and close by is his arm-chair, ready for him whenever he wants to write or read. His favorite place, however, is that lazy-looking seat, half sofa, half arm-chair, by the fire. Here he rests at twilight, and tells his children all sorts of stories about days gone by. Over the fireplace hangs a picture of an old monastery, which, perched upon an overhanging cliff, overlooks a smiling valley; in the tower is a tiny bell, which strikes the hour with a clear, sweet tone, while the hands of the clock, small as they are, keep perfect time in their journey round the clock face. The clear ringing of Uncle Hiram’s clock is heard all over the house, and we call it “the Convent Bell.” Now, I have told you all the wonders of Uncle’s library, except some little curious things which are scattered about on the table and shelves, or in the drawers; many of them are presents from far-off friends. One is an inkstand, which always stands on his study-table; ’tis made of the claw of an eagle—the three toes, tipped with silver, form the stand, and a little socket is made in the leg, to hold an inkstand.


Automaton clocks and rotating clocks

rotatingclockWhile the curiosity factor in an Atmos clock is purely cerebral (you may or may not be aware that there is something quite unusual and ingenious about the clock itself), Automaton clocks are visually very striking its mechanically driven figurines that dance or simply appear in windows: humans, animals, angels, mythical creatures, ships etc. These clocks are very expensive and no longer mass-produced, I believe. There are, however, some variations of the theme that you can still find, equally brilliantly performed. For example, the rotating clock shown here is a high quality mechanism that will make an excellent centerpiece in any modern home library.


Atmos clock – a curiosity for your home library

atmosclock It is debatable whether a clock is a desirable item at a home library. After all, library is a space where you may want to be free from the constraints of time. Things are a bit different if the clock you put on the shelf or on the desk is actually a curiosity of note. Being able to tell time would be an added feature, nothing more. Atmos clock is just such a curiosity. These clocks never have to be wound up. They simply use slight variations in atmospheric pressure, while actually keeping time in a very reliable way. Atmos clocks are Swiss-made! They can still be found at antique stores or you may be able to locate a clock by a different manufacturer.

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Collectible pens

crosspen_ Library ownership has been always inseparable from writing, whether this activity was limited to personal notes and correspondences or rose to the heights of literary accomplishments that were destined to outlive their authors. Pens and quills always went alongside with books. In our digital age, unfortunately, superb writing instruments became almost obsolete. They can, however, be successfully used as decorative accessories in a personal library or study. These slick metal objects look great on any desk, especially in a pen holder or a special pen display box. Vintage pens can be rather expensive, but they can be seen as great collector items. Many modern manufacturers of quality pens continue the tradition of excellency: Cross, Parker, Cartier. In view of the eventual demise of handwriting (sorry to break the news!) you will soon be able to buy the very last of mass produced pens — historic artifacts that will be treasured for generations to come.


Bonheur du jour desk

bonheur-du-jour-desk_2Bonheur du jour (“daytime delight”) is a very specific term for a kind of lady’s desk that became popular in the late 18th century. These exquisite furniture pieces are not as heavy as traditional desks. They are designed to be moved around the room and, as a result, their backs are often decorated. Much attention is paid to detailed ornamentation of the drawers.