Category Archives: Streamline

Art Deco Revere Double Scroll Bookends

Double Scroll Bookends: Painted wood and steel.  Height 5 inches, Foundry:  Revere Copper and Brass Co.  Fred D. Farr designer. 1935.

Art Deco, Clean, Modern, Geometric are all styles trending in home decor. These Double Scroll Bookends designed by Fred D. Farr for the Revere Copper and Brass Company illustrate high-style American Art Deco from 1935 by their geometric appearance, bright paint, and shining metal.  They belong in any room with Art Deco decor and in any collection of Art Deco bookends.

In recent forays to modernism and antique venues The Bookend Collector has noticed an up-tick in the number of Art Deco Scroll Bookends for sale. These spring-loaded, rolled steel, scroll bookends are iconic examples of a period of Art Deco design in American manufacturing. Check out examples found in museum exhibits by clicking on the following links.

Scroll Bookend in the David Owsley Museum of Art Collection, Ball State University.

Expanding Bookend in the Cooper Hewitt, Product Design and Decorative Arts Department, Collection.

Here are 2 further examples of  Revere Scroll Bookends from our book, BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion.


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Moderne Woman Bookends


Streamlined American/WPA Moderne Bookends.

Photo of FrankArt Bookends

WPA/AMERICAN MODERNE STREAMLINED LADIES: Grey metal, Height 5.5 inches. Inscription: FRANKART INC. circa 1935.

In  nineteen thirties’ America, streamlining was the most prominent feature of Art Deco fashions.  The American/WPA Moderne art style was a subset of Art Deco.  Here we have bookends showing a bust of a streamlined lady on a Deco geometric, stairstep base with a semi-classical face that belongs to  American/WPA Moderne.  (Click here to compare to the faces in our Post from June 3, 2014, entitled WPA Moderne Bookends.)  The bookends are Frankart’s contribution to both styles at once.



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Bookends as Works of Art

Whenever possible, we like to identify each pair of bookends as to the art style in which they were created. We do this in order to create the perception that bookends are objects of art, not simply collectibles.  Of course, all bookends are art work, sculptures created by artists, so there is no doubt here.  If the art world accepts bookends as an art form, they will keep their value into the future, and not slip into obscurity along with collectibles such as beanie babies, cookie jars, and telephone pole insulators.

Our 2012 book, BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion, is devoted to promoting bookends as an art form.  Check out some of our favorite bookend works of art in this slideshow:

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Woman in Motion Bookends

Woman in Motion:  Gray metal, Height 6 inches, There is a Ronson label on one felt.  Circa 1933.

Woman in Motion:  Gray metal, Height 6 inches, unmarked. There is a Ronson label on one felt.  Circa 1933.

It is difficult to identify these bookend ladies or the subject they are meant to portray, but we see a few possibilities.

An elegant hood ornament: The ladies resemble the hood ornaments on cars in the nineteen teens, twenties and thirties.  A hood ornament was mounted on the front of the hood or on the exposed radiator cap of each car in order to identify the vehicle and provide a rakish touch to the car design.  The ornaments were appropriately of Art Deco design, some were geometric constructions and others were streamlined animals or humans.  All evoked speed and modernity.  The bookend women certainly look as if they are speeding through the air, and might be driving into the future.

Photo of Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Ecstasy” Hood Ornament, designed by Charles Sykes.

Alternatively, the bookend woman would make an admirable figurehead for a ship.  A figurehead was a decorative carved wooden figure attached to the prow of a ship.  It represented grace, speed, and mobility, as well as the wealth and power of the owner.  Figureheads largely disappeared by the beginning of the twentieth century, but maybe the bookend artist was inspired by them.

Photo of Christian Radich Figurehead.

Figurehead of the Christian Radich:  The full rigged Norwegian sailing ship Christian Radich (launched 1937) carried this figurehead. Photo by Garitzko.

Perhaps the bookend artist was not mimicking any object but rather symbolizing speed and beauty.  This would be appropriate for Art Deco sculpture.  Or, a more rarefied interpretation of the bookend woman could place her in the Futurist art style.  Futurist art was meant to portray speed, dynamism, and power in accordance with the unfolding technological world.  An example is  Boccioni’s 1913 Futurist
sculptural figure entitled “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” and meant to illustrate abstract notions of speed and forceful dynamism.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. 1913 by Umberto Boccioni. Bronze. Museo del Novecento (1931 cast), Milan

All three of these interpretations of the bookends share the belief that the woman symbolizes motion and speed.  We could easily add power and modernity to the symbolism.

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Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Art Deco, Art Styles, Streamline


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