Antique French Empire 4 door Mahogany Bookcase c.1880 19th C


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Object Description

This is a superb antique French Empire Acajou Mouchete mahogany bookcase / Bibliotheque by the renowned French cabinet maker and retailer, Mercier Freres, Paris, dating from the last quarter of the 19th Century.

It has been crafted from Acajou Mouchete mahogany (plum pudding mahogany) and decorated with fine Neo- Classical ormolu mounts consisting of rosettes, bronze palmette mounts and laurel wreaths. The cabinet bears the makers metal trade label for Mercier Freres, Paris.

It features a pair of central brass grill fronted doors flanked by a pair of panelled doors, they each enclose adjustable shelves and the cabinet is raised on bun feet.

It is a lovely bookcase which will blend very well with contemporary interiors.

Complete with working locks and keys.

In excellent condition having been cleaned, polished and waxed in our workshops, please see photos for confirmation.

Dimensions in cm:
Height 190 x Width 241 x Depth 49

Dimensions in inches:
Height 6 foot, 3 inches x Width 7 foot, 11 inches x Depth 1 foot, 7 inches


The firm of Mercier Freres was a furniture and tapestry making firm in the 19th Century in France. It was founded in 1828 by Claude Mercier and participated in most of the major exhibitions of the late 19th Century. By the later 19th Century the firm counted Spanish and Iranian royalty among its clientele. The firm made furniture mostly in the 18th Century Louis XV and Louis XVI styles, but by the early 20th Century Mercier Freres had started to experiment with the popular Art Deco style.

Empire style,
is an early-19th-century design movement in architecture, furniture, other decorative arts, and the visual arts followed in Europe and America until around 1830.

The style originated in and takes its name from the rule of Napoleon I in the First French Empire, where it was intended to idealize Napoleon’s leadership and the French state. The style corresponds to the Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Federal style in the United States and to the Regency style in Britain. The previous style was called Louis XVI style, in France.

The Empire style was based on aspects of the Roman Empire. It is the second phase of neoclassicism which is also called “Directoire”, after a goverment system.
Furniture typically had symbols and ornaments borrowed from the glorious ancient Greek and Roman empires.

The furniture was made from heavy woods such as mahogany and ebony, imported from the colonies, with dark finishes often with decorative bronze mounts. Marble tops were popular as were Egyptian motifs like sphinxes, griffins, urns and eagles and the Napoleonic symbols, the eagle, the bee, the initials “I” and a large “N.”
Gilded bronze (ormolu) details displayed a high level of craftsmanship.

Ormolu – (from French ‘or moulu’, signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze.The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold-coloured veneer known as ‘gilt bronze’.

The manufacture of true ormolu employs a process known as mercury-gilding or fire-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object.

After around 1830 because legislation had outlawed the use of mercury other techniques were used instead. Electroplating is the most common modern technique. Ormolu techniques are essentially the same as those used on silver, to produce silver-gilt..

Our reference: A1721a

Object Details

  • Style
  • dimensions
    W:241 x H:190 x D:49 centimeters
  • period
  • country
  • year
    circa 1880

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