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Tag Archives: Armor Bronze

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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Child Writing Bookends

Photo of Child Writing in Book

Child Writing:  Gray metal, Height 5.5 inches, weight 5 pounds per pair, Unmarked.  Attributed to Ronson, circa 1915

There are many bookends that feature children, but we have not seen this pair before. A very young child is sitting on a book with legs outstretched and two books on her lap. The child is writing or drawing on the uppermost  book. There are number of similar pairs that were produced by a variety of foundries, in the first quarter of the twentieth century, in which a young child is reading.

We attribute this pair to Ronson because of the gold and maroon colors and the sturdy construction, with pieces made in molds and then soldered together.  The very bottom of each bookend is heavy gauge metal with only a relatively small, square opening. This bottom design is unique and suggests very early bookends.  The pair is unmarked but could have had a company label early on.

Photo of Child Writing Bookends base

Underside of Child Writing Bookends

These bookends are obviously Victorian in style.  The Victorians had great concern for family and children and these bookends certainly celebrate children.  The Victorian era ended with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, but the Victorian style persisted in the early decades of the 20th century in America and still has a following here today.

Here are some further examples of this genre from our book, BOOKENDS Objects of Art and Fashion, Schiffer Publishing 2012.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2016 in Literary, Victorian

 

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Asian Taxi Bookends

Asian Taxi Bookends:  Stone carving of Chinese Sedan Chair.  Height 4.5 inches.  circa 1930.

Asian Taxi Bookends:  Stone carving of Chinese Sedan Chair.  Height 4.5 inches.  circa 1930.

These bookends show a lady, probably Chinese, being transported in an open sedan chair.  A variety of bookends from China were exported to the United States during the nineteen twenties and thirties, and some of these were pictured in  Bookend Revue, (Schiffer, 1996).  These are the first bookends we have ever seen which featured  a sedan chair or any other scene from modern China.  The bookends are further unique in that they are carved as mirror images, and the figures on each bookend match the figures on the other in very careful detail.

Sedan chairs have been used for hundreds of years in Europe and Asia.  Most of them were enclosed boxes that contained chairs within, in order to protect the riders, who were usually wealthy and sometimes aristocratic.  The open chair suggests that the lady passenger had somewhat lower status.

Chefoo-Mrs. Reese being carried in a sedan chair. Source: William H. Jackson, World's Transportation Commission photograph collection. Library of Congress.

Chefoo, China-Mrs. Reese being carried in a sedan chair. Source: William H. Jackson, World’s Transportation Commission photograph collection. Library of Congress.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2015 in Chinese

 

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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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Electroformed Bookends – Bronze or Copper?

Recently we have become aware of a trend to incorrectly label electroformed bronze bookends as copper.  One antiques and collectibles site, Eureka, I Found It,  states unequivocally that “Armor Bronze, Pompeian Bronze, and Marion Bronze” are zinc with a copper coating, produced by the “Electroformed” or “Galvano” method.

The Bookend Collector is always Interested in obtaining more information, and recognizing that actual analysis of metal on electroformed or plated bookends is often missing, we contacted the site and asked for supporting documentation for their statement.  Their response was, “……bronze could not be electroplated so it must be copper.”

They are wrong.  Bronze can be electroplated. Bronze, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, is traditionally an alloy composed of copper and tin, in varying proportions.  In modern times bronze alloys have varied in composition and while bronze is primarily copper the alloy may include zinc, lead, manganese, aluminum.  It’s hardness and strength is improved by the addition of a small amount of phosphorous.   In the excellent treatment of Electroformed / Galvano Castings in Gerald P. McBride’s “A COLLECTOR’S GUIDE TO CAST METAL BOOKENDS,” after speaking to the owner of Marion Bronze, he writes ….“The process of electroforming was actually more detailed than it would first appear and required special attention to the amounts of electrical current used and the CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF THE PLATING SOLUTIONS (my caps).”

So far as we know, the metal in electroformed bookends has never been analyzed, and, as yet, we’ve not found the formulas used by the various bookend foundries, so the identity of the metal is not certain.  We do know that electroformed bookends are not plated on zinc, but are plated or electroformed on a composition material or on chalk, this is one difference between electroformed bookends and plated metal bookends.  Additionally, in the electroformed bookends the plating or coating is thick enough to stand on it’s own if the matrix were removed.  In plated metal bookends the plating is usually very thin and is often reduced or removed by dusting or heavy cleaning.  Click here to read our earlier post on electroformed bookends.  Also, there is a discussion of electroforming in BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion on page 159.

Companies that made electroformed bookends include Paul Mori, Armor Bronze, Marion Bronze,  Kathodian Bronze Works (KBW). These foundries claim bronze and there is no reason to doubt them, so we will continue to regard the metal as bronze until proven otherwise.

Some companies that made 3-dimensional, plated metal bookends are Jennings Brothers, Weidman Brothers, …….. The plating may be copper or bronze or other metal on zinc or other gray metal.

A further observation regarding electroformed bookends versus 3-dimensional plated bookends:  in electroformed bookends there are no seams as the plating is done over a matrix, in plated 3-dimensional metal bookends there are seams, usually polished off,  where electrotyped pieces of the sculpture are joined. Click here to view an excellent video from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that shows the process employed in electrotyping – a process that mirrors how bookends from foundries such as Jennings Bros. would have been made.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2014 in Art Styles

 

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Frankart Nude & Frog Bookends

Frankart Inc. was a New York City foundry established by the artist, Arthur von Frankenberg, in the early nineteen twenties.  Frankart Inc. produced bookends, ashtrays, lamps, and other metal household accessories.  Many of the items featured streamlined, sylph-like female nudes designed by von Frankenberg which were very well received, possibly because they contrasted with classical Victorian nudes and were compatible with the emerging boyish  figures of the flapper girls.  The success of Frankart items has continued to the present day, and Frankart bookends are collected today by lovers of Art Deco.

One of the earliest pairs of Frankart bookends are popularly known as Nude and Frog. The Nude and Frog bookends are transitional between Victorian and Art Deco styles. Each bookend presents a sylph-like nude standing on one leg and shying away from a frog nearby.  The inclusion of the frog is a bow to the passing Victorian style which was overlapping with Art Deco at this time.  The frog is a Victorian element which makes the female a  creature of nature rather than a sexual object. Victorian nudes were often presented as nymphs or Classical Greek or Roman personages in order to avoid sexual connotation. Art Deco elements in these original bookends include a streamlined female and geometric buttressing.

The woman that posed for these bookends was Leone Osborne, a celebrated  model of the day.

Photo of Frankart Bookends

The nude in the original foundry pair is stabilized with Art Deco geometric buttressing against the supporting foot and ankle and is marked Copyright 1922 and Frankart Inc.  These original pairs are rare. Gray metal, height 11.25 inches Inscription:  Copyright 1922, Frankart Inc.

Later Frankart productions are unabashedly Art Deco, as can be seen in the bookends presented on the Decollector website.
There are many Nude and Frog pairs without the geometric buttressing around the nude’s foot and marked only with the 1922 date.  These are later Frankart issues, such as the one in the 1930-31 catalog are listed as Frog. There are also unauthorized reproductions.   Serious collectors obviously prefer the originals.

For contrast with the transitional Frankart pose, the bookends below show a female nude in Victorian style.  She is certainly not an object of prurience, but is rather a creature of the forest and she plays with animals, such as this orange frog, and does not traffic with men.

Photo of Victorian Nude Bookends

Armor Bronze,  Forest Nymph and Frog, signed by Salvador Morani, circa 1914, height 7.5 inches, electroformed bronze.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Art Deco, Victorian

 

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Geometric Bears Bookends

Photo of Bear Bookends

Geometric Bear bookends.  Bronze with a green patina. Height 3.5 inches. Width 4 inches.  Depth 3 inches. The bear is solid-cast bronze,  Circa 1920.

Carl Sorensen was a metalworker in bronze and copper who had a shop in Philadelphia round about 1914.  He produced desk sets and other items in the Arts-and Crafts style.  Sorensen was an early competitor of Louis Tiffany but later worked for Tiffany as a designer in the nineteen twenties and thirties. Two of his small animal sculptures can be seen on the Indiana University Art Museum website. They are part of the Dr. Arthur R. Metz Collection.

Photo of Carl Sorensen Shopmark

Each of the bear bookends are marked on the under surface of the base with an angular S within a letter C and with a signature of Carl Sorensen and the word bronze.

Sorensen’s bear bookends shown here have traditional Arts-and Crafts style bases of simple metal sheeting cut to size, and naturalistic subject material, as favored by Arts and Crafts workers, in this case a bear.

The natural curves of the bear are converted into flat geometric planes, and this is Art Deco rather than Arts and Crafts design.  Art Deco was already showing geometric designs by the nineteen twenties.  The Chase Copper and Bronze foundry was producing exclusively geometric bookends by about 1930, for example.  We judge that these bear bookends were produced circa 1920, which would make these bookends a transitional form between Arts and Crafts and Art-Deco styles and Sorensen a progressive and enterprising designer and artisan.  We have seen numerous different bookend animals with curves converted into planes, chiefly produced during the thirties, by various foundries.

Photo of Fox Bookends

Geometric Fox bookends:  gray metal. Height 4.5 inches. Width 4.75 inches

Photo of Ram Bookends

Geometric Ram bookends:  These bookends are gray metal.  Height 7 inches.  Width 6 inches, Depth 2.5 inches.

 

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