The California and Arizona Deserts are in high bloom this 2016 Spring. Saguaro Cactus, Skulls, and Brown Earth are the symbols we usually associate with the deserts of the Southwest and here are two pairs of vintage bookends that represent those symbols.
These bookends were produced by Jennings Brothers, a well respected foundry which functioned from about 1891 to about 1955 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. A dramatic steer skull is shown against a backdrop of Saguaro cacti.
The desert of the Southwestern U.S. supports a small number of grazing cattle, and it is not surprising to find their skulls bleaching in the sun on the desert floor. The Saguaro cactus is found only in the Sonoran desert of The Southwest U.S. and Mexico. A plant can grow up to 60 feet tall and live up to 200 years. Bleached skulls are available commercialy as decorative pieces or Indian artifacts.
A Saguaro and a type of Opuntia (Prickly Pear) cactus stand in this scene. The bookends are fashioned from a solid block of wood and painted. Wood bookends are generally not as desirable as those from metal, and these were very inexpensive. But, a close exam shows they have some merit. First, they are signed M.M. The wood is heavy and coated with gesso. The face is made concave which helps the mountains to recede. The scene of desert floor with mountains in the background rings true. The painting is very careful, and the scenes on the pair match very well. The pair is very pleasing to collectors who love the desert.