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FRUIT BASKET: American Art Deco Bookends

The ornamental image of a bounteous fruit basket was popularized at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts (Paris 1925) along with the iconic images of leaping gazelles, chevrons, zig zags, and the sunburst.  Later, in 1966, the term Art Deco was proposed to describe all the art which had been done from 1925 through about 1946, and so these images took the identity of early French Art Deco.  The influence of the 1925 Paris Exhibition quickly became apparent in home decor. American bookend manufacturers were early adopters and distributors of these new and beautiful designs and styles.

These nicely cast FRUIT BASKET bookends, with their appearance of a well-painted still life on a background of french blue and resting on stylized leaves, are obviously a salute to the French decorative image.

FRUIT BASKET:  Iron, Height 5.5 inches.  Inscription: 9860 and a mark of a J with a c on one side of the J and and an o on the other.  Foundry:  Judd Co.  circa 1927.

Judd Company Maker’s Mark and Number

A second example of early Art Deco are these Hubley SUNBURST bookends.

SUNBURST:  Iron, Height 4.5 inches, Inscription 589, Foundry, Hubley circa 1927.

 

Click here to view our February 2016 post on Leaping Gazelles. 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2017 in Art Deco

 

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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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Bullfrog Bookends

Bullfrog Bookends:  Ceramic.  Height 8 inches.  Contemporary.

Frogs have been frequent subjects for bookends since early times, probably because they are grotesque and interesting creatures.  These pottery frogs are not very remarkable, but they are big so we will call them bullfrogs.

 

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Art Deco Revere Double Scroll Bookends

Double Scroll Bookends: Painted wood and steel.  Height 5 inches, Foundry:  Revere Copper and Brass Co.  Fred D. Farr designer. 1935.

Art Deco, Clean, Modern, Geometric are all styles trending in home decor. These Double Scroll Bookends designed by Fred D. Farr for the Revere Copper and Brass Company illustrate high-style American Art Deco from 1935 by their geometric appearance, bright paint, and shining metal.  They belong in any room with Art Deco decor and in any collection of Art Deco bookends.

In recent forays to modernism and antique venues The Bookend Collector has noticed an up-tick in the number of Art Deco Scroll Bookends for sale. These spring-loaded, rolled steel, scroll bookends are iconic examples of a period of Art Deco design in American manufacturing. Check out examples found in museum exhibits by clicking on the following links.

Scroll Bookend in the David Owsley Museum of Art Collection, Ball State University.

Expanding Bookend in the Cooper Hewitt, Product Design and Decorative Arts Department, Collection.

Here are 2 further examples of  Revere Scroll Bookends from our book, BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion.

 

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Forest Nymph or Dryad Bookends

Spring is here! These bookends are perfect for Spring.

Wood Nymph and Vase Bookends.  Grey metal and glass.  Height 7.5 inches without the vases.  Unmarked.  Early twentieth century.

Each member of this pair is a lovely wood nymph embracing a removable glass bud vase.  Her upswept hair and her softly draped costume add to the picture of a minor goddess or dryad. She stands on a forest hummock next to a tree stump that holds the vase. There is a red flower on the side of the stump that could be a Red Trillium.  The vases are not important in supporting books. The ladies support the books, but the vases are held away from the books.

Side View of Wood Nymph Bookends. The bud vases are in a flower form and quite heavy.

These bookends are quite Victorian in appearance and are reminiscent of the use of nymphs and fairies in the Arts of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Nymphs were popular in poetry, prints, stories, and music.  Jean Sibelius composed and presented in 1895 “The Wood Nymph”, a tone poem based on Viktor Rydberg’s 1882 poem of the same name. An 1872 woodcut,”Die Quelle” or The Source, by the German artist, Kurt von Rozinsky is shown below. This same woodcut was featured in a 1910 edition of “The Bible and Its Story taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons”, a popular book in the United States.

“Die Quelle”. Woodcut by German artist Kurt von Rozinsky. 1872

A Wood Nymph with a vase displaying flowers from the local byways would have been a delightful addition to a 1910 decor.

 

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JB Bookends: Young Man Reading

Young Man Reading:  Bronze on gray metal.   Height 8 inches.  Weight 8 pounds per pair.  Shopmark  J.B. 2869. Early twentieth century.

Young Man Reading:  Bronze on gray metal.   Height 8 inches.  Weight 8 pounds per pair.  Shopmark  J.B. 2869. Early twentieth century.

Each bookend shows a young man standing and reading.  He wears clothing appropriate to about 1895 – a cap, rolled up sleeves, suspenders, and  short pants..  Perhaps he is reading a newspaper. His disheveled clothing and lack of shoes suggest he is poor.

Beyond these observations, the young man is a mystery.  Does he represent some circumstance from long ago?   Is this a reproduction of a painting or a sculpture or a depiction of a character in a book?  We cannot place the young man so we conclude that he has no special significance other than the bookend-artist’s presentation of a young man from that era.

Perhaps one of our viewers will tell us the significance of this young man.  Until then we simply have a very well cast and finished pair of bookends from Jennings Brothers, a respected foundry.

 
 

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