Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Library Steps

Because the bookcases in 18th century houses were often very high, it was common to have specially made library steps in order to reach books on the upper shelves. The steps that can be seen in the Library at Montacute House date from around 1770, and are made of mahogany inlaid with ebony, tulip and boxwood.

The steps were acquired by the National Trust during the 20th century, and their early history is unknown. However, the extremely fine craftsmanship suggests they were made by a leading cabinet-maker for a large and important library. The graceful, delicate steps look extremely fragile, but as with much fine furniture of the time this fragility is more apparent than real.

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