Jeffersonian Book Stand

This piece is a new take on an old invention. In 1810, Thomas Jefferson designed a revolving book stand that was made in the joinery at Monticello, Jefferson's plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia. It is currently on display in the Cabinet Room of the house. The book stand was designed to support as many as five open books for reading and research. At the center is a pivoting mechanism that allows the unit to be rotated 360°.

A sapling in the early 1500s, the 330+ year old yellow birch used in this book stand was recently reclaimed from the watery depths where it sank after being logged over 150 years ago. The grayish discolorations, seen mainly in the top checkerboard panel, are evidence of the tree's long, submerged history. I've relished the opportunity to do several projects using these same planks of yellow birch, but the opportunity to connect this old growth wood with the historic Jefferson book stand has been especially rewarding.

Deceptively complex, but enjoyable to make, this piece features shop sawn veneers and parquetry. The local bird's eye maple parquetry on the side panels has been laid out in what is termed a four-way center and butt veneer match. The top panels take advantage of the light colors of the yellow birch plank's sapwood, while the remainder of the piece uses the darker tones of the heartwood. The legs and horizontal stretchers in the stand are of yellow birch heartwood and include floating mortise and tenon joinery. The main platform has been attached to the stand using shop made brass brackets.

Yellow birch, bird's eye maple and brass

Shellac and beeswax polish

13 1/2" deep x 13 1/2" wide x 16" tall; panels closed
32 5/8" deep x 13 5/8" wide x 25 1/2" tall; panels fully opened

SOLD. This piece currently resides with a Minnesota collector.

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