Traveling Bookcases

Portable libraries have quite a lengthy history, with aristocrats. Very popular in England and France during the 18th and early 19th century, they often saw use on the European Grand Tour, and were also fairly commonplace among military and naval officers (frequently very well educated, at least in England.)
book lv

One of the most elegant is this Louis Vuitton’s combination steamer trunk and portable library.

book huanghuali02

This is a  huanghuali wood traveling bookcase dates from the early 1600s. The stain really brings out the wood grain, and it look like the doors were cut from the same board. The metal work is also very simple, but together they make a very elegant package. Inside it contains two small drawers and a single shelf.


Lighthouses were often time located in remote areas and as such had no access to city services such as libraries. One of the items the tender supplied was a library box on each visit as pictured to the left. Library boxes were filled with books and switched from station to station to supply different reading materials to the families.

4 thoughts on “Traveling Bookcases

  1. Fascinating story and wonderful photos! Thanks – I learned something.

  2. lvsrao says:

    Are those available in use now-a-days?
    Any way good information.

  3. dborys says:

    “Traveling” libraries can still be found today also. Recently saw an article somewhere about an organization in the Seattle area that is building free little libraries. Here’s a couple of links to more info about that.

  4. Francina says:

    thank you for this interesting post which I enjoyed reading.

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