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ROBINSON CRUSOE

Robinson Crusoe:  Gray metal. Height 6 inches. Markings: Pompeian Bronze. circa 1930. The image for the bookends was taken from an illustration in a Robinson Crusoe edition adapted for children . Crusoe is shown fully armed and leading a small goat.

When Pompeian Bronze Company copyrighted this Robinson Crusoe bookend design in 1930, the book, Robinson Crusoe,  had excited the imagination and adventurist spirit of readers for more than 200 years.  The 1719 edition’s full title was,  entitled, The LIFE and Strange Surprizing ADVENTURES of ROBINSON CRUSOE, of York,. Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Orgonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, where-in all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by PYRATES,

ROBINSON CRUSOE was published in 1719.  It was among the first novels ever published in England. It is the story of a man shipwrecked on a lonely tropical island who by craft and industry survived and even prospered. The book was well received and has gone through hundreds of editions in the last 300 years. Until recently it remained popular with youngsters, although one might guess that it can no longer compete with comic-strip presentations of superheroes.

In the mid-to-late 1800s it was fashionable to abridge classics and make them more palatable to a young audience. Chromolithographs spiced up the stories. A 1882 edition of ROBINSON CRUSOE in Words of One Syllable by Mary Goldophin (Lucy Aikin) was widely available here in the United States.This is probably the reason that when Robinson Crusoe was first serialized (18 episodes) in film in 1922 and then became a full-length feature in 1927, Pompeian Bronze Company capitalized on the romantic and beautiful drawings of Wal (Walter) Paget in the Goldolphin version to produce their Robinson Crusoe bookends.

A 135 year old chromolithograph illustration from the edition entitled ROBINSON CRUSOE in Words of One Syllable by Mary Godolphin published in 1882.  Wal (Walter) Paget, Illustrator.

 

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Mystery Birds Bookends

Photo of Mystery Birds Bookends

Mystery Birds:  Grey metal.  Height: 6 inches.  Unmarked.  Attributed to Hirsch Foundry of New York City.  Exaggerated beak of celluloid, Stepped rectangular base of bakelite.  Very deco.  Circa 1931.

We were browsing in an antique shop in 1993 and we saw these bookends.  We bought them for $40. for the house, and later realized that we knew nothing about them – not who made them or when, and we could not identify how they were made, the materials of construction, or the art form. They were our mystery birds. We searched for a book and found there were no books or articles on bookends.  This inspired us to do research and write a book, categorizing bookends by era and we obtained a contract to do so from Schiffer Publishing.

We had a problem because Schiffer wanted at least 400 illustrations and we had only amassed about 250 pairs.  Fortunately, we became friendly with Louis Kuritsky.  He had a large collection and agreed to provide us pictures if we listed him as an author. which we did. BOOKEND REVUE was published in 1996, which, by the way, made bookends into collectibles. We followed it  with BOOKENDS: OBJECTS OF ART AND FASHION in 2012.  We always remember, though, that Mystery Birds was responsible for our odyssey into bookends.

 
 

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Crouching Indian Bookends

Crouching Indian:  Gray metal.  Height 5 inches.  Attributed to Ronson because of the familiar black paint with green highlights. circa 1928. A polychromed variation is depicted on page 63 of Ronson’s Art Metal Works by Stuart Schneider, Schiffer Pub., 2001.

This Indian is crouching over a tree stump and peering into the distance for enemies.. The pose looks realistic.   The exaggerated sweep of the headdress and  very shiny surfaces speak to Art Deco.

The crouching pose is not unique.  An early signed pair, copyright 1911, shows us a crouching Indian peering; into the distance for enemies.  The headdress and the surfaces are more restrained, as we could expect from an earlier date. The artist signed her full name, Nellye Partridge, on the front lip of the bookend.

Indian Ambush:  Bronze plating on gray metal.  Height 7 inches.  Inscription:  Nellye Partridge, Copyright 1911.  Attributed to NAL foundry. Photo from BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion, Seecof, Schiffer Pub. 2012.

We know a Nellye Partridge with a Brooklyn, NY address copyrighted 3 bookend designs: this kneeling indian in 1911 and in 1914 “Babe book ends. Statuette of child lying on one book with feet raised to support others” and “Buffalo book ends. Statuette of buffalo bucking.” In 1913 she had copyrights for several postcards. Little else is known of Nellye Partridge. It is possible that she is the 21year old living in Brooklyn and listed as Nelly E Partridge in the 1900 US Federal Census.

Nellye Partridge signature on Indian Ambush Bookends.

 

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Maltese Dolphin Bookends

Maltese Dolphin:  Brass.  Height 4.5 inches. Inscriptions:  Malta, Made in Malta, also marked with a Maltese Cross.  Attributed to F. Abella and Sons brass foundry.  20th century.

Malta is an archipelago of three small islands in the Mediterranean Sea near Sicily and Italy.  The first people reached Malta in about 5000 BCE and it has experienced a rich history of foreign invasions ever since.  The Order of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John arrived on Malta in 1530 and ruled for  about 300 years.  The Knights were  a Roman Catholic chivalric and military order who adopted the emblem we know as the Maltese Cross in 1126, and which is now associated with the nation of Malta. The Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta now has it’s world headquarters in Rome. Malta became part of the British Empire in the early 1800s, and due to the romance of its location, climate, history and culture was a favorite stop-over for wealthy Europeans doing the Grand Tour in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Dolphin door handles and door knockers are an ancient decorative feature on Malta buildings. Much admired by the tourists and ex-patriates that visited Malta; replicas showed up in England as early as mid-1800s. For example, In an 1869 English publication called NOTES AND QUERIES, some one asked the following: “DOLPHIN KNOCKERS…….Perhaps the Marquis of Bath can account for one of the sets of dolphin knockers from Dean Street, Fetter Lane. A pair certainly figure prominently on the door of his home in Berkeley Square.”  A footnote on that same page noted, “We have reason to believe that Lord Bath’s knockers were modelled from examples at Malta.”

Brass Dolphin Bookends from Malta with Maker’s Mark. The popularity of the Malta Dolphin as a reminder of a pleasant sojourn has inspired the 20th century production of brass dolphin door knockers and bookends by the foundries on Malta.

 

National Arms of Malta, from Independence in 1964 until 1975. The two dolphins indicated that Malta is an island state. Image and information from Heraldry of the World.

 

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Zuni Buffalo Dance Bookends by Freddie Leekya

Zuni Buffalo Dancer and Drummer. 8 .5”, local rock (zuni stone) carved figures, wood base and upright. Sculptor, Freddie Leekya, painting by Edward Lewis. 2011.

This is the perfect time to tell the story behind our Freddie Leekya Bookends. Freddie Leekya is the grandson of renowned Zuni Master Carver, Leekya Deyuse.  The Albuquerque Museum of Art History exhibit, THE LEEKYA FAMILY: MASTER CARVERS OF ZUNI PUEBLO, runs until September 24, 2017. The exhibit features 350 works by the Leekya family gathered from individuals and galleries and from major museums such as the Heard Museum, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the School of Advanced Research, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Click here to see the NEW MEXICO magazine post  “Stories in Stone”.   We are looking forward to visiting this exhibit in a few week’s time.

In 2011, we visited Zuni Pueblo bringing with us our Leekya Deyuse frog bracelet and ring to show. We had arranged our visit ahead of time with the Zuni Pueblo Visitor Center. We had a magical day.

Leekya Frog Bracelet and Ring made of carved turquoise set in silver.

We were introduced to Robert (son of Leekya Deyuse) and Bernice Leekya (masters of silver and gold jewelry) and Sarah Leekya (daughter of Leekya Deyuse) who was still carving a bit at that time and who when she put my bracelet on her arm almost didn’t give it back. Sarah also called us back to her home to share with us some additional carvings by her father and to have her son show us the hand drill Leekya used in carving his figures.

Four treasured carvings purchased from Sarah Leekya in 2011. Badger, Fox, Fox and Bird.

We visited Freddie Leekya at his studio. He was working on two figures which are now in our collection. Our daughter-in-law fell in love with a Zuni rock carved bear by Freddie.

 

That Christmas Bob was gifted with the Zuni Buffalo Dancer and Drummer Bookends. They were specially ordered from Freddie Leekya. The Buffalo Dance is a social dance and is often performed at festive gatherings. Here is a link Dave Hinkle’s youtube video of the dance being performed in Gallup, New Mexico.

 

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The Elusive S.C. Tarrant Company

Five years ago, a fellow inquisitive bookend collector, Chris Bernhard, contacted us with the question, “Who are these guys?” He was referring to paper labels that included “The S.C. Tarrant Co. Inc., New York City” above ARMOR BRONZE found on some Armor Bronze bookends.

Pre-1934 Armor Bronze Paper Label showing “The S.C.Tarrant Co, Inc, New York City” above the Armor Bronze in a circle.

The Bookend Collector responded with “We have seen this Tarrant label in the past. Because the label is the same as the Armor Bronze label, we have assumed that the name Tarrant came first and was later changed to Armor Bronze.”

Armor Bronze paper labels in Bookend Collector’s collection, one of which bears the TARRENT name.

We couldn’t answer the question then and still can’t.

Chris has poked us every-so-often with further questions and by supplying his own research into the enigma. He also began to question the role Paul Mori & Co. (Galvano Bronze) played with S.C.Tarrant. He found both a paper label and an incised Maker’s Mark on different pairs of bookends that incorporated both Tarrant and Galvano Bronze.

Recently, Chris gave us another shove! He sent photos of a beautiful Viking Longboat bookend with TARRANT stamped into the side.

Photo of Electroformed Ship Bookends

Viking Longboat Bookends, Electroform, Signed TARRANT

BE_Ship_Tarrant_Chris_MM

Conducting sporadic internet searches we have come across some clues and few hard pieces of evidence. Now we ask, “WHAT IS THE PLACE OF THE S. C. TARRANT COMPANY AMONG BOOKEND FOUNDRIES?” Did Armor Bronze make bookends for S.C. Tarrant or vice-versa? Was S. C. Tarrant a foundry?

But internet searches haven’t given us much in the way of elucidation on these questions.

Here is what we know …………….

  1. The Armor Bronze label on which S.C. Tarrant appears was used pre-1934, per Gerald P. McBride in CAST METAL BOOKENDS, Schiffer Pub.1997.
  2. The term “GALVANO BRONZE”, which was coined by the firm of P.Mori & Son, became a generic description of the electroform process (Gerald McBride and others)
  3. At least one example of the mark “TARRANT” as part of a casting has been found -the Viking Longship Bookends.
  4. Around 1924, the sculptor Elie Nadelman executed a series of figures in what he dubbed, “galvano-plastique” and, according to his grand-daughter, Cynthia Nadelman , in “Elie Nadelman: Galvano-Plastiques”, Salandar O’Reilly Galleries, 2001, the foundry was S.C. Tarrant.

Chris queried The New York Historical Society, asking the following: In 19-teens (perhaps earlier), SC Tarrant’s name was associated with 2 companies engaged in production of decorative household objects: National Metalizing Co aka Armor Bronze and P(aul) Mori & Son aka Galvano Bronze. Armor Bronze and Galvano Bronze were separate and distinct entities (to my knowledge) but SC Tarrant’s name appears on some of identifying foil labels of each company. I wish to know who / what SC Tarrant was. Any information you might discover would be useful and fun for me. Thank you.

Marian Touba, Reference Librarian at the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library of the New York Historical Society replied:

“….. It proved a bit challenging, because, as far as I can tell, Stanley C. Tarrant was a bit of a jack-of-all-trades with many lives in business. He was british-born in 1887 and lived most of his life in the U.S. in Westchester County, New York and , finally in Connecticut, dying in 1950. He had a son of the same name.

“The S.C. Tarrant company shows up in city and business directories a little later than you might think, in the mid – 1920s and early 1930s under Gas and Electric Fixtures”.

“When we look at Westchester directories and census records over the years, we find Tarrant calls himself a statistician, an office manager, an electrical engineer, a dealer in art goods. At one point, before forming the S.C. Tarrant company he worked for the Westchester Lighting Company. He wrote articles in business magazines both about statistics and office efficiency.”

The librarian also provided a copy of a 1932 NY Times Business Records section announcement which listed the transfer of the S.C.Tarrant company to a buyer or creditor.

Bookend Collector found a November, 1921 announcement In the THE MORNING NEWS (Wilmington, Delaware) regarding the funding of The S.C. Tarrant Co, Inc. Manufacture of lighting fixtures, lamps, etc. From these two pieces of information it can be surmised that the S. C. Tarrant Co. was in existence between 1921 and 1932.

In summary: S.C. Tarrant was in existence from 1921 – 1932, and possibly earlier and was a foundry where the Nadelman’s sculptures were cast.  Tarrant had unspecified relationships with both Armor Bronze and Galvano Bronze, as reflected in the name combinations on certain bookends.

 

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2017 in Foundries

 

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Roycroft Owl Bookends

Photo of Roycroft Owl Bookends

Roycroft Engraved Owl Bookends:  Copper, Height 4 inches. Inscription: Roycroft

In 1895 Elbert Hubbard founded the artistic community of Roycroft in the upper New York state village of East Aurora.  Mr. Hubbard established a print shop in East Aurora after a visit to William Morris and the Kelmscott Press. The success of the print shop and its publications, which defined a burgeoning interest in what is known as the Arts and Crafts Movement, led to the establishment of shops – a bindery, leather shop, metal working shop and furniture shop. Click this link for an excellent summary, The Roycroft Community, by Hilary Davis on The Arts & Crafts Society website.

Roycroft became a collection of workshops dedicated to producing household items according to the principles of the budding Arts and Crafts Movement.  Accordingly, bookends were designed and fashioned by artists working by hand.  Most of the bookends were made in an L shape from sheet copper, and these are the design of Roycroft and other metal workshop bookends from that era that we generally see today.

Most of these early bookends were decorated in low relief, or not decorated at all, but relied on their exposed construction for decorative appeal.  The bookends shown here exhibit curled corners, hammered surface, and exposed rivets that fasten the upright to the base. In addition,  we see an engraved owl against  a background of fine stipples in the metal.  Collectors appreciate the handwork even though the bookends do not stand out at a distance.

 

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