Category Archives: Movies


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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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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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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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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Victorian Cowboy Bookends

Photo of Cowboy Bookends

Victorian Cowboy:  solid grey metal, 7.5 inches, unmarked.

It is strange to see bookends featuring a cowboy positioned in a Greek revival archway, but here they are.  The cowboy is mounted on a rearing steed.  The archway is constructed with typical Greek Ionic columns and with a keystone.

Today we do not associate cowboys with ancient Greece, but western movies were already popular in the USA in the first decade of the last century, and Victorian art styles were still popular as well.  Greek revival was a Victorian style, so the bookend artist probably saw no conflict with cowboys in Greek archways.  The image, though, suggests that the bookends were issued very early in the twentieth century to please both the Victorians and the lovers of Western action. For example in 1903 the western film THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY showed the outlaws escaping on horses.



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Cowboy and Indian Salute Bookends

Photo of Armor Bronze Cowboy and Indian Bookends

Cowboy and Indian Salute.  Electroformed bronze.  Height 8 inches.  Armor Bronze,  Taunton, MA foundry, Taunton Armor Bronze labels on both felts.  Circa 1935.

There are dozens of Indian bookends and fewer cowboy bookends, but fewest of all are bookends featuring both cowboys and Indians.  This pair of bookends, produced by the Taunton, Massachusetts foundry of Armor Bronze around 1935, is one of the rare pairings.

By 1935 the film industry had thoroughly imprinted the American movie-going public with the heroics of the West. The biggest movie stars were the likes of Gene Autry, Tim McCoy, Tom Mix, Buck Jones, and Will Rogers. Some of these stars were part Indian. The “Indian” in the movies had moved from always being the enemy to being portrayed, in part, sympathetically and even sometimes heroically. Click here to see the New York Times Movie Review, Sept. 1932, of WHITE EAGLE.

As with other bookend sets, these bookends of a cowboy and an indian with their rearing horse salute, reflected the changing attitudes in American culture.


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Pirate Bookends

The Pompeian Bronze Company produced this set of electroformed bronze pirates, circa 1925.  Each bookend is marked with the name of Paul Herzel, the artist.  There is a pair of very similar pirates, from Armor Bronze, but with the foot resting on a treasure chest instead of a coiled rope.

Photo of Pirate Bookends

Pirate standing on Rope. 9.5 inches tall. Signed “Paul Herzel.”

Doubloons, swords, treasure chests, eye patches- everyone knows that all these identify pirates because Hollywood told us so.  But how does a pirate look?  Pirate bookends show us pirates in the round, and the bookends must be correcct, at least for the popular conception of pirates, because we immediately recognize  pirates on bookends.

This pirate wears knives on his colorful sash and leans on his sword while keeping one foot on a coil of rope.  The man’s shirt has been torn, undoubtedly in a fight, but, his close-fitting, nineteenth century pantaloons and his high boots are in good shape.  Finally, his mustache and tricorn hat and an ear ring in his left ear make him an elegant chap.  A red bandana peeks out from beneath the hat.  His haughty stance clearly advertises his power.

But, we do not need all these details of dress and accoutrements to identify a romantic pirate.  The pirate bust below gives us a recognizable pirate with only a stern mustached face, an ear ring and a red bandana.  These electroformed bronze bookends are also marked with the name of Paul Herzel, and they are attributed to Armor Bronze Inc.

Photo of Pirate Bust Bookends

Pirate Bust. 7″. Signed “Paul Herzel.”

Chuck DaCosta’s Antique Bookend Collection site contains a number of Pirate Bookends for your viewing.


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