The World According to Eratosthenes, 200 B.C.
The Western Mediterranean, 800-600 B.C.
Map of Europe, Asia, Africa 15,000 Years Ago
Map of Europe, 500 A.D.
Knights and Men-at-arms cased in Mail, in the Reign of Louis le Gros, from a Miniature in a Psalter written towards the End of the Twelfth Century.
The system of chaining, as adopted in this country, would allow of the books being readily taken down from the shelves, and laid on the desk for reading. One end of the chain was attached to the middle of the upper edge of the right-hand board; the other to a ring which played on a bar set in front of the shelf on which the book stood. The fore-edge of the books, not the back, was turned forwards. A swivel, usually in the middle of the chain, prevented tangling. The chains varied in length according to the distance of the shelf from the desk. The bar was kept in place by a rather elaborate system of iron-work attached to the end of the bookcase, and secured by a lock which often required two keys—that is, the presence of two officials—to open it. To illustrate this I will shew you a sketch of one of the bookcases in Hereford Cathedral.
Another device for combining desk with shelf is to be seen at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and, as these cases were set up after 1626, we have here a curious instance of a deliberate return to ancient forms. There is evidence that there once existed below the shelf a second desk, which could be drawn in and out as required, so that a reader could stand or sit as he pleased, as you will see from the next illustration.
The University of Leiden in Holland adopted a modification of this design, for there the shelf is above the desk, and readers could only stand to use the books