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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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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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Sitting Ladies Bookends

 

Sitting Ladies: Grey metal, Height 7 inches, Inscription: Janle and Made in France. circa 1925.  Janle is suspected to be a pseudonym for Max Le Verrier.

Sitting Ladies: Grey metal, Height 7 inches, Inscription: Janle and Made in France. circa 1925.  Janle is suspected to be a pseudonym for Max Le Verrier.

These Art deco bookends are large, well-cast and beautiful, and would be desirable with no further provenance.  But, in addition, they are signed by the french artist Janle and were cast by the prominent french foundry of Le Verrier, all of which makes them high-end productions.

Impressed "Janle" inscription and "Made In France".

Impressed “Janle” inscription and “Made In France”.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2016 in Art Deco, Art Styles

 

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Moderne Woman Bookends

 

Streamlined American/WPA Moderne Bookends.

Photo of FrankArt Bookends

WPA/AMERICAN MODERNE STREAMLINED LADIES: Grey metal, Height 5.5 inches. Inscription: FRANKART INC. circa 1935.

In  nineteen thirties’ America, streamlining was the most prominent feature of Art Deco fashions.  The American/WPA Moderne art style was a subset of Art Deco.  Here we have bookends showing a bust of a streamlined lady on a Deco geometric, stairstep base with a semi-classical face that belongs to  American/WPA Moderne.  (Click here to compare to the faces in our Post from June 3, 2014, entitled WPA Moderne Bookends.)  The bookends are Frankart’s contribution to both styles at once.

 

 
 

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Bookends as Works of Art

Whenever possible, we like to identify each pair of bookends as to the art style in which they were created. We do this in order to create the perception that bookends are objects of art, not simply collectibles.  Of course, all bookends are art work, sculptures created by artists, so there is no doubt here.  If the art world accepts bookends as an art form, they will keep their value into the future, and not slip into obscurity along with collectibles such as beanie babies, cookie jars, and telephone pole insulators.

Our 2012 book, BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion, is devoted to promoting bookends as an art form.  Check out some of our favorite bookend works of art in this slideshow:

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Woman in Motion Bookends

Woman in Motion:  Gray metal, Height 6 inches, There is a Ronson label on one felt.  Circa 1933.

Woman in Motion:  Gray metal, Height 6 inches, unmarked. There is a Ronson label on one felt.  Circa 1933.

It is difficult to identify these bookend ladies or the subject they are meant to portray, but we see a few possibilities.

An elegant hood ornament: The ladies resemble the hood ornaments on cars in the nineteen teens, twenties and thirties.  A hood ornament was mounted on the front of the hood or on the exposed radiator cap of each car in order to identify the vehicle and provide a rakish touch to the car design.  The ornaments were appropriately of Art Deco design, some were geometric constructions and others were streamlined animals or humans.  All evoked speed and modernity.  The bookend women certainly look as if they are speeding through the air, and might be driving into the future.

Photo of Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Ecstasy” Hood Ornament, designed by Charles Sykes.

Alternatively, the bookend woman would make an admirable figurehead for a ship.  A figurehead was a decorative carved wooden figure attached to the prow of a ship.  It represented grace, speed, and mobility, as well as the wealth and power of the owner.  Figureheads largely disappeared by the beginning of the twentieth century, but maybe the bookend artist was inspired by them.

Photo of Christian Radich Figurehead.

Figurehead of the Christian Radich:  The full rigged Norwegian sailing ship Christian Radich (launched 1937) carried this figurehead. Photo by Garitzko.

Perhaps the bookend artist was not mimicking any object but rather symbolizing speed and beauty.  This would be appropriate for Art Deco sculpture.  Or, a more rarefied interpretation of the bookend woman could place her in the Futurist art style.  Futurist art was meant to portray speed, dynamism, and power in accordance with the unfolding technological world.  An example is  Boccioni’s 1913 Futurist
sculptural figure entitled “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” and meant to illustrate abstract notions of speed and forceful dynamism.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. 1913 by Umberto Boccioni. Bronze. Museo del Novecento (1931 cast), Milan

All three of these interpretations of the bookends share the belief that the woman symbolizes motion and speed.  We could easily add power and modernity to the symbolism.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Art Deco, Art Styles, Streamline

 

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Chase Co. Colonial Bookends

Colonial Bookends: Brass.  Height 6 inches.  Inscription:  Chase shopmark of a centaur and the word Chase.  1933.  The brass is finished in Chase’s English Bronze.

Colonial Bookends: Brass.  Height 6 inches.  Inscription:  Chase shopmark of a centaur and the word Chase.  1933.  The brass is finished in Chase’s English Bronze.

These bookends are listed in the 1933 Chase Brass & Copper Co. catalogue as Colonial bookends.  The relationship of these bookends to our colonial era is not clear to us.  But, their modernist art style is certainly clear.

The Modernist style originated in Germany in the beginning of the twentieth century.  It was not an immediate success outside of Germany, but it matched the growing industrialization of the West, and it persisted and grew, eventually becoming an important component of Art Deco in the United States in the nineteen twenties and thirties.

An object of Modernist design was simple, decorative, and functional, and was assembled from machine-made parts.These bookends, produced by the Chase Brass & Copper company are a good illustration of the Modernist style.  Each bookend is assembled from two pieces of brass sheeting, and held together by three small machine screws. The three small buttons visible are the nuts for the screws.  This is masterful industrial design.  Both pieces are clearly formed by machine, the assembly of the pieces is simple and strong, and the finished products are decorative and function perfectly as bookends.

Products formed by machine, and with little hand labor, were increasingly favored in America during the nineteen twenties and thirties as the industrialization of America proceeded.  The Modernist style was clearly appropriate, and influenced the production of many objects during our Art Deco period, sometimes called the machine age.

Centaur Logo of Chase Brass & Copper Co.  Adopted in 1928.

Centaur Logo of Chase Brass & Copper Co. Adopted in 1928.

The Chase Brass & Copper Company-Specialty Division was formed in 1930, an offshoot of the Waterbury Manufacturing Company of Connecticut which began in the nineteenth century.  The division functioned for about 12 years and gave us copper, brass and chromed household objects of exceptional industrial design.  Today these Chase pieces are avidly collected as decorative Art Deco objects.  Because of collector demand, Chase bookends are relatively expensive and hold their value well.

 
 

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