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Category Archives: Promotional

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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Tipsy Monk Bookends

Photo of Monk Bookends GMB

Tipsy Monk Book Ends: Ceramic. Height 7 inches. 1932. Inscription Gladding, McBean & Co. S.F. Cal. and the artist signature Theo. Tracy.

Presentations of monks are associated with objects made in the Arts and Crafts style, including bookends.  The monk is usually identified by his cowl.  Here is a pair of ceramic bookends with each bookend showing a monk sprawling on a huge book.  One apparently intoxicated  monk is facing us with a silly look on his face.  There is a chalice in his right hand with liquid draining from it.  The liquid is presumably wine and the silly expression indicates the monk has had too much of the tipple.  The other monk is leaning sideways with a distressed look on his face.  His look suggests concern for his supply of wine.

During the middle ages thousands of monasteries in Europe produced wine from their own vineyards for ceremonies, consumption, and sale.  Pairs of bookends showing monks like these, one facing forward and holding an empty cup and the other leaning to the side were popular early in the twentieth century.  Such bookends were issued by leading California potteries, including the Catalina Clay Products Co. and the Malibu Potteries, plus independent potters.  Click here to view the post and photo of the Malibu Potteries version from Oct. 7, 2013. All of these inebriated monk  bookends  are highly collectible today.
The pair shown here was issued by Gladding, McBean & Co in their “Semi-Porcelain” line and called “Monk Book Ends” in the 1932 company catalog.  The spine of the book reads “Gladding McBean & Co., S.F. Cal”. A quick search did not yield information about an artist named Theo. Tracy, whose name is inscribed on the back of the bookends.

 

 

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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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Cigar-Store Indian Bookends

Photo of Cigar Store Indian Bookends

Cigar Store Indians: Iron. Height 9.5 in. Inscription: The Strata Group 1988. There is a Strata Group in Baltimore, but they deny issuing these bookends. The foundry remains unknown.

Cigar-store Indians have a long history.  They appeared first in England in the seventeenth century with the arrival of tobacco.  The English knew that the new import of tobacco coming into the country was derived from the tobacco used by American Indians.  They responded by stationing carved wooden Indians outside the new tobacco shops as advertising figures.  In the eighteenth century, life-sized wooden Indians appeared outside American tobacco shops.  Today antique carved wooden Indians are valuable collector’s items and are quite rare.  Wooden Indians are no longer seen outside tobacco shops, and shops like these are nearly gone.

There is, however, one pair of recently-produced bookends to remind collectors and tobacco lovers of the wooden advertising Indians of bygone eras.  Each Indian of this pair presents a handful of cigars because Indians holding cigars were commonplace and were called cigar-store Indians.  The bookends are not carved of wood,  and they are novelties rather than serious art work,  but they are cast in substantial iron, and they are fun conversation pieces  Recent iron bookends are somewhat unusual because relatively few pairs of iron bookends were produced after 1930, and today new bookends are frequently of resin.

 

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Bookends by McClelland Barclay

Photo of Golden McClelland Barclay Nudes

Sitting Nude:  Gray metal, Height 6 inches, signed by McClelland Barclay, Art Deco, American modern, circa 1939.

McClelland Barclay (1891-1943) was one of the best known and successful American artists of the first half of the twentieth century.  Born in St. Louis, he was a student of H.C. Ives, George Bridgman and Thomas Fogarty.  Barclay was a painter, an illustrator, a sculptor and a jewelry designer. His illustrations appeared on the covers of many national magazines, as well as on Naval posters for the first and second World Wars. His McClelland Barclay Art Company (1930s) produced numerous small household items, including, of course, bookends.  Barclay died in action as a naval officer in the second World War, but his art lives on.  Online exhibits of his art can be viewed at The Naval History and Heritage Command, Navy Yard, Washington DC and National Museum of American Illustration, Newport RI.

Photo of Sisyphus Bookends by McClelland Barclay

Sisyphus.  Grey metal. Height 6.5 inches.  Sisyphus, the king of ancient Corinth, commited a crime against the Gods and so was forced to repeatedly push a heavy boulder up a steep hill and then watch it roll down again, forever.   The legend of Sisyphus is inscribed on the back of each bookend.

Photo of Inscription on back of Sisyphus Bookends

Reverse of Sisyphus Bookends with Legend.

Barclay bookends feature a variety of subjects – nudes, toadstools, fish, the Greek god Pan, Ivy leaves, bears, horseheads, a number of dogs, and others.  Some were produced by Barclay’s art company and some by other foundries.  “Buddy, The Original Seeing Eye Dog” is one that is seen frequently.  It was originally produced by McClelland Barclay, probably in response to Buddy’s death in 1938,  in a large version (8.5 inches) and in a smaller version (7 inches). The Seeing Eye Dog Foundation in New Jersey has both versions in their collection.   Later, the Dodge Company produced copies that do not have the McClelland Barclay signature.

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Pre-Columbian Reproduction Bookends

These pottery and wood bookends were issued by the Schering pharmaceutical company in about 1973, to promote Schering products.  Each bookend holds a museum reproduction of a pottery piece from the Colima culture of Mexico. The original clay sculptures are about 1500 years old and show an individual scratching his skin disorders. Presumably, The Schering skin cream, Valisone, could have helped ease the medical condition, so the reproduction pieces were used to promote Valisone.

Photo of Schering Promotional Bookends

“Itch and Scratch”. Pottery and wood, height 5.5 inches. Produced in Spain. Inscription: Brand of Betamethasone Valerate, Valisone, Colima Mexico, ca 200-800 AD. Includes the crest of the Schering pharmaceutical company.

The original ceramic sculpture is pictured in the book, Precolumbian Dermatology & Cosmetology In Mexico, by Dominique D. Verut, M.D., Chanticleer Press. Inc., New York.1973. This interesting volume was also distributed as a promotional item by the Schering company.  Dr Verut, a prominent dermatologist, wrote that the skin lesions could be from tuberculosis, deep mycosis,syphilis, or tumors.

The documentation of the sculpture as featured in this volume elevates the bookends from simple Schering promotional items to unique bookends featuring precolumbian ceramics, and increases their value to all collectors interested in this subject. According to the Medipro (Marketing Company) website, eight dermatological museum reproductions were produced as Valisone promotional items, another 8 reproductions promoted the mental-health drug Etrafon.  As far as we know, none of these other reproductions were bookends.

 
 

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Limerock & Barbed Wire Bookends

Limerock Post Bookends

Barbed Wire on Rock Post Bookends.  Limestone posts and bases, and steel barbed wires. Height six inches.  Paper labels read George and Nancy Welling, Paradise, Kansas. Twentieth century

Large numbers of  American farmers and ranchers settled on the Great Plains right after the Civil War.  Fences were needed to establish boundaries for cattle and other animals, and the best and most practical fences to install proved to be barbed wire fences.

These fences were constructed with steel wires that were strung between fence posts. The wires were one, two or three stranded with short sharp-pointed lengths wrapped around or between strands to make the fence prickly.  Fences typically had three or four tiers of wire to enclose cattle; cattle shy away from any sharp object.

Wood was commonly used for fence posts, but farmers in Kansas had a problem because suitable trees were not available locally.  Instead of wood, Kansans used rock posts quarried from abundant, local limestone.  The stone was very strong and durable and posts lasted for one hundred years or more.  The Bluestem Quarry and Stoneworks has a nice history of these Limerock posts.

Each of these bookends shows two limestone posts with three tiers of barbed wire attached between them.  The pieces of wire are real, and sharp, and are of several different types.

Barbed wire is quite collectible.  Some two thousand types are available, and collectors prefer about eighteen inch lengths.  The bookends are probably very attractive to barbed wire collectors and to Kansans for their state history.  While we bought these at the Charleston Antique Mall in Las Vegas, NV,  the Ellis County Historical Society in Hays, KS is selling a selection of  limerock bookends on-line.

 
 
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