Category Archives: Buildings

MGM GRAND Lion Bookends

LEO the LION, MGM GRAND Hotel and Casino. Painted Chalk, 5 3/4 high, each weighs 2 lbs 10oz, made in Taiwan, copyright 1993.

This cartoon version of the MGM (film studio) logo, Leo the Lion, is from 1993.  The bookends depict the MGM GRAND Casino and Hotel entrance as it existed when the property opened on the Las Vegas Strip in 1993.  It was made of bronzed fiberglass and was 6 stories high.  The entrance was demolished and replaced in 1997.  It is said that some of the gambling public considered it unlucky to enter a casino through a lion’s mouth. 

The Lion emulates a deco appearance from the nineteen twenties, a genre of Art Deco now referred to as Zig Zag and composed of angled geometric figures.  Another animal in Zig Zag Deco is seen in our post DECO EAGLE, from February, 2018.

Paper Label on MGM GRAND HOTEL Lion bookends.


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Fairy Tale Cottage Bookends

Fairy Tale Cottage: Painted Iron.  Unmarked.  Circa 1920.

Fairy Tale Cottage: Painted Iron.  Unmarked.  Circa 1920.

This cottage does not look like a very good home for people, and it is not.  This is a fairy tale cottage, one that might be an illustration in a book of fairy tales; tales like Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood.  Fairy tales have been entertaining children for a very long time.  Their origins are hidden in folk tales.  Fantasy became entertaining for adults in the twentieth century, and in the nineteen twenties and thirties there were a number of whimsical houses built in the so-called Storybook House architectural style in America and in England.  These houses were built to evoke fairy-tale buildings for playful buyers. Click on the following 2 links to view some examples of Storybook Architecture in Los Angeles, CA.
Offbeat L.A.: Storybook Architecture in Los Angeles

Photo Gallery of Los Angeles Storybook Homes in Los Angeles, courtesy of L.A. Times Home and Garden.

Nowadays, of course, fantasy tales are wildly popular for children and adults.  We watch super heroes and talking animals in movies, on TV, and in electronic games,  embellished with special effects and animation.  Storybook cottages are no longer representative of our modern fairy tales, but these bookends are a reminder of the days when books filled with eerie illustrations of tales and early times were found on every child’s bookshelf.




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Golden Mission Bookends

Photo of Mission Bookend

Mission bookends, 9.5 inches tall, weight 5 pounds each.

We thought we were buying bookends that showed specific California Missions, but we were mistaken.

The bookend on the right has a number of Mission features:  four mission bells, a wooden door with huge strap hinges, an adobe brick wall covered with plaster, and a tile roof.  Unhappily, not any of the twenty-one California Missions closely match the appearance of this bookend.  It is a combination of features creating a beautifully  romanticized Mission bell tower,  although it is possible that it matches a Mission in Texas or Arizona.  However our research didn’t find one.

The bookend on the left has a partial identity.  The bell tower matches that of Mission San Diego de Alcala, but the staircase from the rear of the tower has been brought forward to the front, and the well and the path have been brought from an enclosed garden to the front of the bell tower.

Photo of Vernon Kilns plate depicting San Diego Mission.

San Diego de Alcala Mission and Bell Tower depicted on a Vernon Kilns plate circa 1940.

The Golden Mission bookends are marked Progressive Art Products, 1967.  Progressive Art Products of California, located in the Los Angeles area, produced decorative bookends in the 1960s and 70s.  All we have seen have been quite large, made of plaster, and very well painted.   We included a decorative pair of large Clown Heads and a patriotic pair of Heroic Eagles by this company in BOOKEND REVUE, published in 1996 by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.


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ETERNAL LIGHT PEACE MEMORIAL Bookends.  4 3/4 inches high, 5 1/4 inches wide, weighs 3 1/4 lbs. Iron. Maker unknown.  “Eternal Light Peace Memorial” impressed in base.

ETERNAL LIGHT PEACE MEMORIAL Bookends. 4 3/4 inches high, 5 1/4 inches wide, each weighs 3 1/4 lbs. Iron. Maker unknown. “Eternal Light Peace Memorial” impressed in base.

On July 3, 1938, on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Eternal Peace Light Memorial on Oak Hill.  Twenty-five years earlier, on this site, thousands of Civil War veterans, Union and Confederate, shook hands as Woodrow Wilson declared, “the war forgotten.”  The memorial was designed by Paul Philippe Cret (1876 – 1945). The sculpture of 2 women, on the front of the tower, representing North and South led by an eagle on the ground is by Lee Lawrie.

Check out these links to further research the Eternal Peace Light Memorial:

Gettysburg Daily, Jan. 1, 2009 article on the 1938 Dedication of the Eternal Peace Light Memorial.

Gettysburg Daily, Video of Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Ed Guy at the Eternal Peace Light Memorial discussing Lee Lawrie’s style evolution.  You will need to page down to Video #16.

The Eternal Peace Light Memorial is also considered a miniature or souvenir building and is collected as such. Visit The Building Collector website to see these bookends again and view other Gettysburg souvenir buildings.

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Posted by on June 30, 2013 in Art Styles, Buildings


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CLAYCRAFT Pottery Bookends

Claycraft Potteries’ decorative tiles are highly sought-after remnants of the California pottery productions that epitomized the Spanish/Mexican Revival designs in the 1920s and 1930s.  The pottery operated from 1921 to 1939 at 3101 San Fernando Road, Los Angeles, about 20 miles south of the San Fernando Mission. The section written on Claycraft by Joseph A Taylor in California Tile: The Golden Era 1910 – 1940 credits George Robertson for much of the design work.

CLAYCRAFT California Mission Bookends.  Heavy ceramic.  6 inches in height.

CLAYCRAFT California Mission Bookends. Heavy ceramic. 6 inches in height.

This bookend pair by Claycraft depicts the most iconic features of the Southern California Missions, San Juan Capistrano’s Bell Wall and San Fernando Rey de Espana’s Fountain.  These Missions were rescued and restored during the early part of the 20th century and by the mid-1920s were significant tourist destinations.

San Juan Capistrano is the third mission in the string of missions from San Diego to Sonoma, California.  It is internationally known for the “Return of the Swallows” on St. Joseph’s Day in March each year.  The bookend shows the bell wall where the bells were hung after the December 8, 1812 earthquake which killed 40 Native Americans as the great stone church collapsed.  Today the grounds of the mission are beautifully landscaped and it is one of the most visited sites in California.  You can watch the bells being rung to celebrate the swallow’s return by clicking here.

San Fernando Rey de Espana Mission is located in the northern section of Los Angeles‘ San Fernando Valley.  It is an active Catholic Church today.  The fountain seen on the bookend is probably the fountain from the central courtyard.  There are two fountains on the property and it is difficult to determine from the old photographs which fountain is represented here. Both fountains were photographed by Henry F. Withey during the 1936 Historic American Buildings Survey.

There is no Claycraft mark on these bookends yet they are easily recognizable.  This particular pair have “HENRY KRIER, TILE CONTRACTOR, MONROVIA” impressed into the clay.  According to Taylor “…. Claycraft Tiles were promoted successfully through established tile contractors and design showrooms….”  So it makes sense that Henry Krier, a noted designer and installer of decorative tile works in southern California, would have had one or more of these sets of bookends available in his Monrovia showroom or would have used them as promotional gifts.  The full article, “The Legacy of Henry Krier: A Contractor In Contrasts” by Lynn A. Downey, in the July-September 1989 issue of FLASH POINT, The Quarterly Bulletin of the Tile Heritage Foundation is available from the Tile Heritage Foundation.


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ANNOUNCEMENT!!! – BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion by Robert and Donna Seecof

Robert and Donna Seecof wrote the first book on bookends in 1995 (Bookend Revue, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1996). At that time we briefly addressed bookends as works of art. Since that time we have become more aware of bookends as a medium of art and fashion, and we have attempted to show these relationships in this new volume, BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion, available now from Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.

We owe special thanks to Charles DeCosta, who generously allowed us to present some of the bookends from his outstanding collection, which can be viewed at

Over 350 vivid color photos and engaging text reveal that bookends have been a medium of art from the turn of the twentieth century to today. The photos illustrate 350 pairs of bookends from principal art styles, and the research places them in historical context, creating an illustrated art history of the twentieth century.  Accompanying the photos are identification of the production date, the foundry, sculptor, art style, commentary, and values. The bookends presented have documented American art fashions for the past one hundred years. This novel guide also organizes bookends by art style and historical period, rather than subject matter, which gives the reader new insight into the evolution of bookends in a dynamic culture. Reader will come to regard bookends as works of art and will be knowledgeable about their rightful place in the art world.

Front Cover of BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion by Robert and Donna Seecof

Front Cover of BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion by Robert and Donna Seecof


Back Cover of BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion illustrating some of the fashionable bookends of the 20th Century


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Palomar Observatory Bookends

Photo of Palomar Observatory Bookends

Palomar Mountain Observatory with the dome open. Inscription on back is “Pat Pending.”

There are quite a few bookend pairs that were produced as souvenir buildings for tourists.  This pair is for the Palomar Observatory building in San Diego County, California.  The Observatory is massive but here it rests comfortably on a book, with books behind it. The bookends are of gray metal and unmarked except for the words Palomar Observatory.  We attribute them to Dodge, probably produced  about the time the Observatory opened in 1949.  Nowadays, you can visit the Observatory, but you will not find these bookends for sale.  You may locate a pair on eBay or in an antiques display, but the price may be higher than you expect because souvenir building collectors also search out these historical treasures.

Palomar Observatory Ashtray

Palomar Observatory Ashtray

The observatory, with its 200 inch mirror, was the world’s largest until 1992, and it is still a force in astronomical research today.  On June 8, 2011 Caltech-led astronomers announced they had found a new class of Stellar Explosion.  An excellent historical timeline for the development of the Palomar Mountain Observatory site can be viewed at the CALTECH ASTRONOMY website.

Donna has a particular fondness for the Observatory.  Two of her uncles helped paint the dome in the late 1930s.  Her grandmother was photographed with the dome in the background about that same time.  In the 1950s the family enjoyed Easter Sunrise Services at the Observatory Picnic Grounds, driving up the twisting road in the dark and back down in the fog that formed after daybreak, both trips a little scary.  A trip to the Observatory was obligatory for any visiting friends and family.  Not only was the tour impressive but the air-conditioning in the building always amazed everyone – it was cold.

Photo of woman and Palomar Observatory Dome

Visiting Palomar Observatory circa 1939

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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Buildings


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