'Temple of the Muses' Miniature Bookcase
1800. 15.5 inches tall, 4 inches deep and 12 inches wide at the feet. Except for the interior and back the wooden structure has been bound in calf which has been finely and densely gilt tooled. The original lock is fully functional. There is a little wear, especially to the Palladian top where there has been a little expert restoration. The interior is lined with marbled paper. James Lackington founded the 'Temple of Muses' bookshop in Finsbury Square in 1794. It became the largest bookshop in Georgian London thanks partly to its popular catalogues which gave it a transatlantic reach. It was destroyed by fire in 1841. It is highly probable that this beautiful little bookcase was either stocked there or was a fitting. We have located one other example which is located in the Museum of Leathercraft in Northampton. Despite a little wear to the 'roof' the bookcase is perfectly solid and is highly usable, and to a great extent unsophisticated. We would estimate its construction to be late 18th or early 19th century. A truly remarkable survival.