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Category Archives: New York

The Spirit of St Louis Bookends

There is an abundance of bookends commemorating the historic 1927 flight of Charles LIndbergh across the Atlantic from Roosevelt Field, Mineola, NY to LeBourget Airport, France.  Lindbergh is captured in profile, in bust, in flying outfit, in front of the plane,…………..    

Photo of Spirit of St Louis bookends

Spirit of Saint Louis.  Iron, Height 5 inches. Inscription on the front:  FIRST NON STOP FLIGHT  NEW YORK TO PARIS MAY 21st TO 22nd 1927. TIME: 33HRS: 21MIN.  PILOTED BY CAPT. CHARLES A. LINDBERGH.  on the back:  WM P CO 1120.  circa 1927. (Note – the dates are wrong.)

This bookend, showing the Spirit of Saint Louis, reminds us that the historic significance of the flight was about more than just Lindbergh.  It was about a PRIZE and $$$, it was about GLORY, it was about ENGINEERING, and INGENUITY, and IMAGINATION, and it was about CELEBRITY and REPUTATION.  And it was a competitive race to be FIRST!

The Orteig Prize of $25,000 was originally offered in 1919 for the first non-stop flight from New York City to Paris, or the reverse, by an Allied Aviator.  Offered for 5 years there were no competitors.  It was re-offered in June 1925, and since aviation had made significant advances, a competitive field showed up.  Six aviators died in their attempts and others were hurt.  In 1927 there were several groups prepping for attempts at the prize, including one headed by polar explorer Richard E. Byrd.  April and May of 1927 found everyone gathering at Roosevelt Field and Curtis Field testing their planes and waiting for the right conditions for the flight. 

An Airmail pilot, Charles Lindbergh, managed to convince 9 Saint Louis, Missouri businessmen to back him;  and a small aeronautical firm in San Diego to deliver a plane, to his specifications, in sixty days.  He was convinced that a single-engine monoplane using a whirlwind engine could take him to Paris.  The “Ryan NYP” (for New York to Paris) was built.  On May 10 -12 he flew it to Curtiss Field on Long Island, NY, setting a new North American transcontinental speed record, stopping in St. Louis on the way.    Byrd offered Lindbergh the use of the longer Roosevelt Field runway.  Lindbergh takes off on May 20 and thirty-three and half hours later captures the Orteig Prize by landing in Paris on May 21.  

The plane designed by Donald A Hall and built in San Diego which carried Lindbergh to success now rests in the Smithsonian, while a reproduction built in 1978-79, the Spirit of Saint Louis 3, resides in the rotunda of the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.  Spirit 3 was last flown on the 75th anniversary of the 1927 flight. 

Photo of Spirit 3, Air and Space Museum, San Diego

Spirit of Saint Louis 3. Reproduction at the Air and Space Museum, Balboa Park, San Diego. It was flown on the 75th Anniversary of the original flight. The Bookend Collector, Bob Seecof, gives perspective to the plane’s size.

 
 

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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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Organ Grinder Bookends

These bookends offer a nostalgic reminder of the Organ Grinders with their capuchin monkeys performing for coins on the streets of New York City. In 1887 a ban was placed on using monkeys, apparently the monkeys and their activities were not always appreciated by the audience. In 1936, NY City Mayor Fiorella La Guardia banished the Organ Grinders altogether.    The small organs were played by turning a hand crank which operated a concealed bellows and could produce only a few preprogrammed tunes.  In fact, the organ grinders were beggars, and the monkeys were trained to collect coins with their cups.  People gave the organ grinders money from pity or to encourage them to move away and play their repetitive music elsewhere.

Photo of Organ Grinder Bookends

Organ Grinder with Monkey.  Gray metal, Height 7.5 inches. Inscription: APT – N.Y.

Each bookend shows a disreputable-looking organ grinder leaning against a fire hydrant.  He turns the organ crank while his monkey, which looks like the favored capuchin monkey, brandishes a cup. The fire hydrant in the sculpture is very similar to a LUDLOW VALVE, CO, List 75 Model, from 1874, and made in Troy, NY.

This image was gone by the turn into the 20th century so the bookends are probably quite old.  They are marked APT-N.Y. so we assume they were made in New York, but we have been unable determine the company or the meaning of APT. There are other bookends out there that bear the same inscription.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2014 in Animals, New York, Victorian

 

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