The artists who designed these bookends were certainly aware of the images that were fashionable in the U.S.A. in the twenties and thirties. These two pairs are exceptional because each pair includes a variety of Deco concepts, and between them they show most of the images of that era.
The dog bookends show us a number of iconic Art Deco elements. Namely, a subject matter that was popular in the nineteen twenties, a sleek, shiny, surface, a reference to speed, and geometric aspects.
The dogs are Greyhounds or Salukis, both of which are associated with speed, sleek appearance and were popular animals during the nineteen twenties. Today, the Greyhound Bus Company and its trademark symbol is a remaining example of the twenties and thirties and reminds us of the way in which increased speed in transportation changed the face of the country.
There are no attached decorations; decoration is provided by the shining surface of the bookends. These bookends are plated with chrome or nickel to get this effect. Decoration via the surface appearance, especially a shining surface, speaks to Deco. Decorative highly-reflective surfaces, such as polished stainless steel, were frequently used during the twenties and thirties in diners, theaters, hotels, train and bus stations.
The space beneath the dog is bounded by the arc of a circle, and the feet rest on small solid-rectangular plinths. The head of the dog is turned to show its far side, which is a touch of cubism, an art style that is grounded in geometry.
These nude lady bookends also show very deco elements: streamlining, stairstep design, and fluted column.
The lady is has a streamlined figure and sports the flapper hair style known as a “Bob”. Streamlining was the pervasive American contribution to Art Deco.
She sits on a fluted column, a structure favored by Deco designers. The edges of the upright portion of each bookend are made into skyscraper or stair-step design. The stair-step design is the image that represents the setback profile of skyscrapers. Skyscraper buildings were a recognized symbol of modern technical triumph in the nineteen twenties and in the thirties and this flapper is posed against a skyscraper.