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Globe-Wernicke Bookcases : The “Standard” Style

September 25, 2012

Globe Wernicke Standard style bookcase

Click here for the main Globe Wernicke article.
(Source numbers are in brackets, and the sources are listed at the bottom of the post.)

Standard style bookcases were initially the only style of bookcase produced by Globe Wernicke. They were originally produced by The Wernicke Company, first in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and later in Grand Rapids, Michigan [1][4]. After The Wernicke Company was purchased by The Globe Company in 1899, the newly created Globe Wernicke Company in Cincinnati, Ohio continued their manufacture with slight modifications [1][2]. As you can see from the Wernicke Catalog below, the older Wernicke cases had different style bases and tops from the later GW cases. The Wernicke bases are rectangular and the tops are either a flat top that doubles as a shelf, or a rounded top that is generally similar to that of the GW cases except with a slightly different pattern [2]. The Standard style bookcases were discontinued by 1922 [3].

Wernicke Catalogue (c. 1899)

Each full-size standard section is 32″ wide inside and 34″ wide outside [5]. Standard bookcases were also available in 3/4 length versions (25 1/2″), but they are not common [5]. The sections were available in different depths and different heights, depending on the requirements of the books that were to be housed in them. The different depths were C (8″ inside depth, 10″ outside depth), D (9 1/2″ inside depth, 11 1/2″ outside depth), and E (12″ inside depth, 14″ outside depth). G (13″ inside depth, 15 1/2 outside depth) and H (16″ inside depth, 18 1/2″ outside depth) units could be custom ordered, but are consequently very rare [5]. The C bookcase units could be ordered with 9 1/2″ or 11″ inside heights, and the D book units with 8 1/2″, 10 1/4″ or 12 1/4″ inside heights. The E, G, and H units were available with only 13 1/2″, 18″, and 17″ inside heights respectively [5]. The D units are the most common.

Globe Wernicke stack widths

The oldest GW units have no labels but instead have information (including patent numbers) stenciled on the slat. The Wernicke units from 1899 and earlier have similar stenciling, but it appears to be on the inside back of the cases. Later GW units have labels that list “size” and “grade”, where the size is given as “depth-inside height” (for example: C-9 1/2, D-10 1/4), and grade refers to the finish. An S at the end of the size indicates a 3/4 width unit. Still later units have labels that list “pattern” and “grade” where the pattern is a three digit number (e.g. 110, 112) identifying the type of section. The labels are affixed to the inside back, bottom center.

Globe Wernicke stenciled slat

GW stenciled slat

Globe Wernicke early label

GW early label

.

Globe Wernicke later label

Globe Wernicke later label

Canadian Globe Wernicke label

Canadian GW label

.

English GW decal

English GW decal

English GW label

English GW label

.

The tops and bases each feature a distinctive rounded look (commonly referred to as “waterfall”, “ogee”, or “rolltop”). Corner tops (tops with 45 degree angle portions) were available for locating two bookcases in a corner of a room, but are rare. The bases were made with or without a drawer. Combination units were also available that are used to change the depth of the stack. For example, a D combination unit mates to another D depth unit below, but mates to a C depth unit above.

GW combination units

GW angle top

GW drawer base

Source for replacement base and top sections or missing doors:
antiquerepairguy.com

The sections have metal strips (often called “straps”) that cover the joints between the sections, and also serve to lock one stack to another stack next to it. These straps are finished in what GW called an “oxidized” finish. Knobs are typically made of brass. The sections were constructed from plain oak (straight cut oak), quartered oak (quarter sawed oak, tiger oak), mahogany, or imitation mahogany (birch with a mahogany finish). The doors are usually just standard glass, but may be leaded glass or other types of glass.

The oldest units have an equalizer as shown below [6]. Later, an equalizer having an additional member for sliding was used. Replacements are available for both of these equalizer types.

first GW equalizer

first GW equalizer type

Second GW equalizer type

Second GW equalizer type

Sources for parts:
C&H Hardware
Hardware Tree
Rufkahrs Hardware
antiquerepairguy.com
Kennedy Hardware

Known finishes: 198, 199, 296, 297, 299, 299 1/2, 398, 398 1/2, 516 1/2, 598, 898, 998 1/2
Click here for more info on the different finishes.

The following is a listing of the types of units, and dimensions if known:

Size/Pattern Section Name Outside Dimension Inside Dimension
C-9 1/2 Book Unit 34Lx11.5Hx10D 32Lx9.5Hx8D
C-9 1/2-S Book Unit, 3/4 Length 25.5Lx11.5Hx10D 23.5Lx9.5Hx8D
C-11 Book Unit 34Hx13Hx10D 32Lx11Hx8D
C-11-S Book Unit, 3/4 Length 25.5Lx13Hx10D 23.5Lx11Hx8D
C-X Top Unit N/A
C-X Base Unit N/A
D-8 1/2 Book Unit 34Lx10.5Hx11.5D 32Lx8.5Hx9.5D
D-8 1/2-S Book Unit, 3/4 Length 25.5Lx10.5Hx11.5D 23.5Lx8.5Hx9.5D
D-10 1/4 Book Unit 34Lx12.25Hx11.5D 32Lx10.25Hx9.5D
D-10 1/4-S Book Unit, 3/4 Length 25.5Lx12.25Hx11.5D 23.5Lx10.25Hx9.5D
D-12 1/4 Book Unit 34Lx14.25Hx11.5D 32Lx12.25Hx9.5D
D-12 1/4-S Book Unit, 3/4 Length 25.5Lx14.25Hx11.5D 23.5Lx12.25Hx9.5D
D-12 1/4 Combination Unit (mates to C size units)
D-X Top Top Unit
D-X Base Base Unit
D-X Drawer Base Base Unit
E-13 1/2 Book Unit 34Lx15.5Hx14D 32Lx13.5Hx12D
E-13 1/2-S Book Unit, 3/4 Length 25.5Lx15.5Hx14D 23.5Lx13.5Hx12D
E-13 1/2 Combination Unit (mates to D size units)
E-X Base Base Unit
G-18 Book Unit 34Lx20Hx15.5D 32Lx18Hx13D
H-17 Book Unit 34Lx19Hx18.5D 32Lx17Hx16D
108 D-8 1/2 Book Unit 34Lx10.5Hx11.5D
109 C-9″ Book Unit
110 D-10 Book Unit
111 C-11″ Book Unit
112 D-12 1/4″ Book Unit
113
133 C Leg Base
141 Standard D Square Top
143 D Leg Base
145
148 Standard C-D Leg Drawer Base
157 E Leg Base
12 inch record section
10 and 12 inch record section

Sources:
1. Cardinal Brands history of GW
2. Wernicke Catalogue (c. 1899)
3. 1922 GW bookcase catalog
4. pensapedia.com article on Otto Wernicke
5. GW thread at arts-crafts.com
6. article at jrantiquesandgifts.com on barrister bookcases

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7 Comments
  1. deena davis permalink

    we have an globe Wernicke angled bookcase grade num. 398 and are trying to find out the year it was made and the value each side has 3 shelves to it ?

    • jellocity permalink

      The 398 refers to the finish, which is supposed to be “imitation medium dark mahogany, maple/red birch, highly polished, Roman gold end hardware, pearl center door knobs”. Other than that, I don’t know. The only bookcases I’ve seen that are angled have been the standard style ones, which if that’s what it is, would date the bookcase to around 1900-1920 or so.

  2. eileen permalink

    Globe wernicke Lable inside each section states : Standard D 8 1/2 UNIT Pattern 108 Grade

    998 1/2 Sectional Bookcase This finish is not guaranteed to be permanent , it usually changes to a lighter shade.

  3. I have a pattern 711 grade 3225 1/2
    6 pc. Plus crown and base. I was wanting to find more information on it.
    Please and thank you.

    • jellocity permalink

      The 700 series numbers are for the Utility or the Economy style cabinets. The Utility style cabinets were around by at least 1914:

      https://books.google.com/books?id=qnAoAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA153&lpg=RA1-PA153#v=onepage&q&f=false

      The Economy style cabinets look very similar to the Universal style cabinets. Every 700 series or Utility labeled cabinet I’ve seen had the same appearance as the Universal style cabinets, which I think probably dates them to 1921 or later. But, I’m skeptical that whatever was being called “Utility” back in 1914 would have looked like the Universal style, since the Universal style seems to have been introduced around 1921.

      As far as I know, the Utility, Economy, 700 series cases differ from the other lines primarily by use of cheaper materials, and are lower cost alternatives to GW’s flagship lines. Anyway, I don’t have much info on these series, Here’s what I have:

      Utility Style, Economy Style
      Utility style appeared by 1914, economy style name being used by 1939, Economy style looks similar to Universal style. Not sure if these are distinct styles, but each uses 700 numbering
      known finishes: 114 1/2, 122 1/2, 199 1/2, 398 1/2, 3225 1/2
      709 Book Section
      710
      711 Book Section
      713 Book Section
      732
      741 Top Section

  4. We inherited sectional bookcase 2 units with the base & top pattern 143. Grade 998 1/2. Standard D leg base. Could you tell when this was made & it’s value. Glad I could find your website Thank you.

    • jellocity permalink

      Well the age is approximately 1900-1920. No idea on the value, it will vary wildly based on locality and condition. You should be able to get a general idea by checking completed sales for similar sets on Ebay.

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