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Category Archives: Mid-Century

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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BEEP! BEEP! Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner Bookends

 

Roadrunner and Coyote Chinese bookends:  Probably resin, Height 7.5 inches, weight 8.5 pounds per pair. There is a label reading Made in China on the bottom of each bookend.

Roadrunner and Coyote Chinese bookends:  Probably resin, Height 7.5 inches, weight 8.5 pounds per pair. There is a label reading Made in China on the bottom of each bookend.

The first Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated cartoon, Fast and Furry-ous, featuring Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote  was released in 1949 and featured the famous tunnel through the mountain scene.  Coyote wishes to capture and eat Roadrunner, as usual, so he paints an entrance to a non-existing tunnel on a mountainside and expects Roadrunner to knock himself unconcious when he runs into the false entrance.  To Coyote’s frustration, Roadrunner passes through the entrance and runs down the tunnel.  Coyote tries to follow Roadrunner through the tunnel entrance and the tunnel, but he smashes himself on the painted entrance.  The tunnel sequence starts at 3:31 of the  7 minute video.

The embedded Merrie Melodies cartoon is from the dailymotion website.

The bookends are marked Made in China and clearly reproduce the cartoon.  All previous Chinese-made bookends we have seen have carried American nineteen-twenties or thirties realistic bookend subjects.  Here the Chinese maker is appreciating and replicating zany American humor.  Perhaps this presages a new wave of novel Chinese bookends.

These bookends are very substantial – large, heavy, and with eleven accurately-applied colors with paints that are not affected by water, detergent, or wax.  AND ….. it is clear that anyone of a certain age that sees them covets them.

 

 

 

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Charro Bookends

Charro Bookends:  Gray metal and “mexican marble or onyx”.  Height 6.25 inches.  Inscription:  ArtemetalicA  S.A.  Hecho en Mexico.

Charro Bookends:  Gray metal and “mexican marble or onyx”.  Height 6.25 inches.  Inscription:  ArtemetalicA  S.A.  Hecho en Mexico.

The charro is a Mexican horseman or cowboy who competes in a charreada.   HIs traditional costume is a fancy sombrero, a beautifully-embroidered short jacket, tightly-cut and decorated trousers, and boots.  With lariat in hand, our bookend charro is ready to win the heart of a lady while showing off his skill with the rope.

The Charreada is a Mexican rodeo, and it is the national sport of Mexico.  It is a formal exhibition of horsemanship that dates back to the sixteenth century and is a predecessor of the American rodeo.  Today charreadas can  be seen in Mexico (Click here for photos of a Charreada from The Guardian in 2014) and in the U.S (Click here for a link to the San Antonio, Texas organization ). We found these bookends in the heart of California’s Central Valley, which has a tradition of rodeos and vaqueros.

It is unusual to see metal bookends from Mexico.  Most Mexican bookends we see are relatively crudely shaped stone pairs, generally greenish yellow, sold as mexican onyx. They can be found in craft and tourist shops at border crossings.

These Charro figures are finely cast of metal and each is mounted on single block of mexican onyx. The detail is excellent. You can see the embroidery on the jacket and the metal “galas” down the outside seams of the pants.  There is a paper label on one of the bookends identifying the maker as

Paper labels on base of one of the Charro Bookends

Paper labels on base of one of the Charro Bookends

Recently we visited a bronze foundry in Tijuana, B.C.,Mex. . While our bookends were not made at this particular foundry, it is an example of the type of foundries to be found in Mexico where quality casting work like this is done today.

 
 

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Bookends for Desert Lovers

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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.

Desert Scene: Bronze deposited on gray metal, Height 6 inches, Shopmark: J.B. 1357. circa 1930.

Desert Scene: Bronze deposited on gray metal, Height 6 inches, Shopmark: J.B. 1357. circa 1930.

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.

 

 

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Chuck De Costa: Bookend Collector Extraordinaire

 

Chuck De Costa was a major player in the world of bookend collectors.  He amassed a great collection of beautiful and significant bookends, somewhere north of 2400 pairs.  He was generous in sharing his collection and knowledge with other collectors.  He was the author of the Collector’s Encyclopedia of Bookends.  The following announcement was made on his Antique Bookend Collection website:

“It is with sadness that I must report that Chuck De Costa, the Antiques Bookend Collector passed away on December 4, 2015. This site will remain for a short time to honor his love and knowledge of Antique Bookends. This site has been developed to share with other antique bookend collectors & enthusiasts. Whatever your favorites might be we hope that you enjoy this website and share it with your friends.”

As a tribute to Chuck we hope you all will take time to visit the site before it is taken down.

Chuck De Costa’s Antique Bookend Collection

 

 

 

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IRON HORSE Train Bookends

Promotional Bookends. Westinghouse Air Brake Co.

Iron Horse. Bronze. Height 5.5 in. Inscription: see text. Ten pounds per pair. 1969.

The Plains Indians called trains “iron horses” in the nineteenth century, or perhaps they were referring only to the steam locomotives that pulled the train.  Either way, the term seems like one that the Indians would have originated, something that I always believed.  But, in fact, railroads, trains and steam locomotives appeared in England in about 1830, before they appeared in America, and the English coined the term “iron horse” to describe them.

These bookends, named Iron Horse, show such a nineteenth-century steam locomotive. The legend on the rear of each bookend reads “100th anniversary 1869-1969 Westinghouse Air Brake Co.  Cast in Willmerding foundry.”  Commemorating a double Centennial, 1869 refers to the founding date of the Westinghouse Air Brake Co. and it is also the year the transcontinental railroad was completed with the meeting of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads on May 10 at Promontory Summit, Utah.

The Iron Horse lives on in myth and legend and movies. The company founded by George Westinghouse, inventor and manufacturer, continued to produce air brakes until the year 2000. The advent of Air Brakes dramatically improved the safety, speed, and growth of the trains as the locomotive engineer could apply the brakes instead of having brakes applied manually on each individual train car by a brakeman.

 

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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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