This 17th-century Jacobean traveling library is a beautifully crafted wooden case created to house a miniature book collection. According to the University of Leeds, the case was most likely commissioned by lawyer, and member of Parliament, William Hakewell in 1617 as New Year’s gift for a friend. Shaped in the form of a large book, the case houses 50 smaller books, creating a portable, traveling library. As Stella Butler, university librarian, reminds us, “It’s essentially a 17th-century e-book reader such as a Kindle.”
And this wasn’t the only traveling library Hakewell gifted. In fact, over the course of four or five years, he commissioned three others that still exist in collections at the British Library, the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio, proving that the gift of reading has long been held in high regard.