Boasting attractive designs and often using some of the rarest woods, library table antiques feature a certain appeal that attracts collectors. Once a staple in libraries and ancient living rooms, antique library tables can be used today as work surfaces, consoles, or desks in many rooms.
However, while a seasoned antique furniture collector may find it easy to collect these historical pieces, the regular person may not know how to identify or value these tables. Some antique library tables will cost as little as $500, while others will set you back over $50,000.
This detailed guide will help you understand the factors affecting the value of antique library tables. Moreover, we will show you how to separate genuine library table antiques from reproduced pieces.
Are you ready? Let’s jump in.
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What is a Library Table: Characteristics That Make Antique Library Tables Unique
The oldest library tables were designed for studying and writing. For this reason, most tables from before the 19th century will be desk height—approximately 28 to 30 inches high.
Most of these tables will feature an oval or rectangular shape and may boast a substantial feel. The most commonly used wood is mahogany and oak; in some cases, these tables may have a leather-covered writing top. Some of these tables featured veneer too.
Maybe you have been asking yourself, “what is a library table?”
Several features can help you separate antique library furniture pieces from modern ones. We will look at these features in the following section:
While the standard desks will mostly have a wall side and another side designed for working, library tables come with two working sides. This is because people sat on both sides of a table to write and study in the earliest days.
These tables will often feature a narrow shelf or crossbar that extends the table’s length below its surface. This crossbar divided the working space, allowing two people to use the table.
Shorter Knee Height
While the library table antique may feature the same height as other types of tables, the knee height—that is, the space for your knees under the table—tends to be shorter than other tables.
These tables come with a broad apron, and it is also very common to find antique library tables with drawers below the table’s surface. This Design gives the ancient library tables a substantial feel and creates enough room for gorgeous decorations and carvings.
However, the tables can make things quite difficult for a taller person—you might find it hard to cross your legs under these tables.
Antique Library Table Identification and Dating
Now that you have an answer to what is a library table, we will go ahead and take a deeper look at how to identify a specific table. We will also show you how to determine when it was manufactured. When identifying and dating ancient library tables, consider the following:
While not all ancient library tables are marked, it is always a good idea to start the identification process by checking the furniture for the maker’s marks. You will find that numerous companies added a mark or pasted labels on their productions—this, however, tends to be located in a hidden location.
Check on the table’s underside—and if you have an antique library table with drawers, pay special attention to the bottoms and backs of those drawers. Also, be sure to check the inner part of the apron.
A maker’s mark makes it easy to determine who made your table. However, if you fail to find a signature, you might still be able to date the table.
Use Table Style for Dating
Undoubtedly, desks that look similar to the ancient library tables have been produced and sold for hundreds of years. However, library table designs gained popularity when the industrial revolution streamlined the furniture production processes. For this reason, you can quickly determine your table’s era by checking clues in its style.
The era of Victorian furniture started in the 1850s and maintained popularity until the beginning of the 20th century. Table from this period features elaborate hardware and carvings—although some exceptions did not follow this type of Design.
Library tables from the Victorian era often boast:
- Ornate drawer pulls
- Table apron that has scrolling designs
- Carved legs
Arts and Crafts
Once the Victorian era ended in the 1900s, numerous manufacturers started building designs featuring:
- Simple details
- Straight lines
- Strong joints
Often given the name of Craftsman or Mission-style furniture, the appearance of tables from this era was used in many library tables manufactured in the first two decades of the 20th century.
Art Deco replaced the Arts and Crafts between the 1920s and the 1930s. Library tables using the Art Deco style will feature:
- Simple and almost futuristic lines
- They will have repetitive geometric details
The library table hardware will be straightforward but will have geometric elements.
Factors Affecting the Value of Antique Library Tables
Tables featuring elaborate designs and carvings tend to have a higher value than those with standard designs. For example, ornate carvings on a library table antique can increase the price by thousands of dollars.
Antique furniture collectors prefer to purchase library tables boasting the best condition. For this reason, a discolored or chipped library table may be worth much less than one with the original wood color and no chipping.
As you would expect, a smaller table model will cost less than a bigger model. However, in this case, the bigger model has to be in good shape and more appealing than the smaller table. In cases where the smaller table is better looking, it may fetch a higher price.
Tables from the 1860s will have a long history than those produced in the 1910s. Moreover, the oldest tables are rarer and have a higher demand—these factors raise the value of older tables.
If a famous public figure owned an antique library table, it would have a higher value than a similar table that does not have an exciting history.
10 Most Valuable Antique Library Tables
Rosewood Alexander Roux Library Table
Italian Angiolo Library Table
Victorian Era Tiger Oak Library Table
Antique Regency Library Table with Ladder
French Country Pine Library Table
Oval Mahogany Library Table
Victorian Era Library Table with Three Large Drawers
Newhall Co. Expanding Library Table
Quartersawn Oak Library Office Table
Hepplewhite Library Table
1. Rosewood Alexander Roux Library Table
This unique table boasted Alexander Roux as the manufacturer and was produced between 1850 and 1860. The library table antique boasts a total length of 47 inches and stands at the height of 31 inches with a width of 32 inches.
The handmade piece boasts the Rococo style and a dark wood tone. What’s more, the piece boasts many intricate carvings ranging from animals to the face of human beings. In addition, the antique library table boasts a unique leg design where different carvings are perfectly assembled to make it stand out.
This piece is currently listed on eBay and is selling at $58,500. While it is easy to assume that this price is high, the Rosewood Alexander Roux Library Table has already attracted the interest of 41 people who are willing to acquire it.
2. Italian Angiolo Library Table
Manufactured in 1860, this piece boasts a height of 82 cm, a length of 142 cm, and a width of 76 cm. Boasting the Victorian era design, the walnut library table boasts carvings typical of furniture from this period.
This antique library table boasts Angiolo Barbetti of Firenze as the person behind it. With most of Barbetti’s pieces selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars, the seller notes that they are giving the buyer a good bargain by pricing this piece at only $28,582.50.
Interestingly, the Italian Angiolo Library Table has already attracted the attention of 25 people interested in buying it. The seller notes that the piece features very minimal signs of wear and tear—with near-perfect wood, the antique piece will fit perfectly in any room.
3. Victorian Era Tiger Oak Library Table
This piece boasts a width of 32 inches and a height of 29 inches. This piece from the Victorian era is a standout antique library table with drawers.
Boasting the Horner brand as the manufacturer, the table was designed and developed by R J Horner. With a total length of 55 inches, this piece is not too large nor too small—it has enough room for a medium-sized group.
The seller notes that this piece combines tiger oak and solid quartersawn oak as its manufacturing materials. Currently listed on eBay, this piece is selling at $13,995. What is interesting is that 66 people have expressed interest in acquiring the antique library table.
4. Antique Regency Library Table with Ladder
An interesting piece, this handcrafted library table comes with its ladder. With a height of 77 cm, its ladder suggests that it was used as a stepping table to get books sitting on higher shelves.
This piece was produced just before the Victorian Era and boasted a combination of leather and mahogany as its materials. However, according to the seller, the table was manufactured between 1800 and 1849.
The rectangular-shaped table is 76.5 cm long and has a width of 48 cm. This exciting piece is currently on sale on eBay and has a price tag of $9,718.05 attached to it. The antique library table with drawers, however, has already attracted the interest of 11 collectors.
5. French Country Pine Library Table
If you have been hunting for an antique library table with drawers, this piece from the 19th century might be perfect. It has a total of 8 drawers, four on each side. This piece has a length of 91 inches, a width of 28 inches, and a height of 33.5 inches.
This piece utilized the French Country furniture style and was produced between 1800 and 1899. The antique library table is simplistic and does not feature ornate carvings.
The seller notes that pinewood was used in the production of the table. Currently listed on eBay, this piece is selling at $7,900. While we may assume that this is a high price for a table with a simple design, it already has 18 people interested in buying it.
6. Oval Mahogany Library Table
This table was put on the market for the first time in the 1890s. This antique library table has a length of 54 inches, a width of 30 inches, and a height of 30 inches.
Just as you would expect with furniture produced in the Victorian era, this piece boasts ornate carvings that showcase various animals. In addition, the table’s legs are specially curved to give the table a more appealing look.
The seller notes that R J Horner designed and produced this piece. The oval table is entirely made of mahogany and is still in good condition. The antique furniture is currently listed on eBay for $4,000. When we checked the listing for the antique library table, it had 29 interested buyers.
7. Victorian Era Library Table with Large Drawers
Another interesting antique library table with drawers, this piece boasts a height of 32 inches, a width of 36 inches, and a length of 8 feet. Produced using the Americana furniture style, this piece has been around for nearly two centuries—the seller notes that it was built in the 1800s.
The furniture makers that produced this piece used quartersawn oak as the raw material. Interestingly, the piece has maintained the attractive appearance of the oak tree—the seller notes that the library antique table features very minimal signs of wear.
The Victorian Era Library Table with 3 Large Drawers sells on eBay at $2,950. This piece has already attracted the attention of 33 buyers.
8. Newhall Co. Expanding Library Table
An interesting piece manufactured by Buckley – Newhall Co., this piece boasts an attractive design that allows it to close and open. When closed, the table has a length of 60 inches, a width of 22 inches, and a height of 29.5 inches. When opened, the width of the piece increases to 36 inches.
This piece utilized mahogany as the raw material and was built in the 1920s. The seller notes that the library table antique still has its attractive appearance, retaining the original medium wood tone.
This table is listed on eBay—to add it to your collection, you will need $2,995. It is, however, worth noting that about 14 people have already expressed their interest in the antique table.
9. Quartersawn Oak Library Office Table
This piece has been around for over two centuries. The seller, however, says that it is not branded, although it is estimated to have its origin in a Spanish or English Library.
The library antique library table with drawers boasts a length of 80 inches, a height of 30.5 inches, and a width of 32 inches—this places it in the large table category. In addition, the seller notes that the provenance of this table is well known. The family of Charles H. Hackley—a known philanthropist—owned the table.
This piece is listed on eBay with a price tag of $2,995. Interestingly, 47 people have already shown interest in purchasing the table.
10. Hepplewhite Library Table
The most interesting library antique table we came across, this piece is a combination of a game and a table. The seller notes that when the wood cover is on the table, it is an elegant round library table. However, the top wood is flipped, revealing a gaming table.
The circular table has a diameter of 40 inches and is noted to have used the Hepplewhite furniture style. The table was manufactured using oak as the primary material. According to the seller, the table is still in good condition and does not show any wear.
Currently listed on eBay, you can buy the antique library table for $1,460. You will, however, have to compete with 19 people who have already expressed interest in the antique table.
Also known as writing tables, library tables have existed for hundreds of years. Today, however, collectors often prefer to get these antique library tables to add a piece of history to their home settings.
However, whether you are interested in antique library tables with or without drawers, understanding how to identify and value these tables is highly vital. The knowledge in this guide will ensure you get a genuine library table antique and pay the right price.
We wrote this detailed guide to answer all the questions you might have about collecting antique library tables. If there is a question we missed, do not hesitate to let us know in the comments below—we will give you the answer immediately.