Interest in authentic period decor has increased the demand for more information that accurately describes and pictures the furniture and room settings of other periods.
Designers always have been interested in such information. But nowadays, the general public is just as likely to be seeking the same sort of information, as more families restore older homes or recreate the past in a new home.
One source that has been providing helpful information of this type since 1930 is The Furniture Library. The library was established in 1930 by Nathan and Bernice Bienenstock. Currently, the library is a fixture in High Point, N.C., the acknowledged center of the American furniture industry, where national wholesale markets are held each year in April and October.
Research on Premises
According to Bienenstock, who at 83 remains curator of the collection, the library's stock of more than 6,000 books on furniture and design history is open to anyone with an interest in using it. All research must, however, be done on the premise.
Other services available include a catalogue of current books, which the library sells by mail order. The library was begun by Bienenstock in New York as a resource for retail furniture salespersons. At the time, Bienenstock, who was trained as an accountant, was publisher of a trade magazine known as "Furniture World."
He noted in an interview that he became fascinated with furniture when he was called in to go over the books of "Furniture World" in 1922. Soon after, Bienenstock and his late wife became collectors of books about furniture; he acquired the magazine and his future association with the furniture industry began.
Among its more than 6,000 books the library owns many rare and valuable works, all of which were collected by the Bienenstocks.
Supported by State
The collection, valued at over $1 million, includes America's only complete collection of the original works of Chippendale and Hepplewhite and a complete set of Diderot's Encyclopedias.
The furniture library became a public educational institution in 1973, and it recently was awarded funds by the state of North Carolina to put on microfilm some of the rarest books in the collection, according to Bienenstock.
Presently, the organization is supported by a number of furniture manufacturers and others interested in the preservation of the collection, which was moved from New York to High Point several years ago.
Bienenstock says the library will remain in High Point as long as that city remains the center of the American furniture industry.
(Individuals interested in learning more about the Furniture Library or in obtaining a free copy of the mail order catalogue of books the organization keeps in stock for sale, can write The Furniture Library, 1009 N. Main Street, High Point, NC 27262.)