These bookends show two infants huddling in an opened book. The bookends are 5.5 inches high and bronze plated. Each bookend shows a trade mark of NAL Co within a diamond and a signature H. Crenier with a date of 1903. The NAL Co is unknown, but the date tells us that it was one of the earliest American foundries to cast bookends. In fact these are the second earliest American bookends we have ever seen. Henri Crenier (1873-1948), was born in Paris, France, and studied under Alexandre Falguiere at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris before emigrating to the USA in 1902. These bookends were likely his first American commission. Crenier became a well-respected sculptor and his future works include a 1917 sculpture entitled Boy and Turtle, cast by the Roman Bronze Works, which is held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
The bookends were so popular early on that reproductions were produced by Armor Bronze, K&O, and possibly by other foundries as well. Today the reproductions are occasionally found on eBay but the original signed pairs are quite rare.
These same bookends were pictured in the magazine VICTORIAN HOMES, in the article entitled “Beauty by the Book”, February 2004.