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Tag Archives: Arts & Crafts

THE SPINNING WHEEL: A Symbol of American Protest

 

Spinning Wheel Bookends: grey metal with faux ivory (celluloid) face and hands, bakelite base.  Height 6.5 inches. Marked J. Ruhl (sculptor John Ruhl,  1873-1940 ).  Attributed to Hirsch foundry.  circa 1930.  The drive wheel spins at a touch. 

In Colonial times, women spun fibers into yarn on spinning wheels and produced home-made clothing. As the colonies grew, production of wool and wool products allowed for export of these commodities to Britain and other nations.  In 1699 the British forbid their colonies to export wool products in order to protect their textile industry.  The effect of this WOOL ACT of 1699 was to force all commercially produced wool and wool products to be sold to England after which it was resold back to the colonies.  Colonial people then persevered in spinning yarn and producing cloth in order to protest against the Wool Tariffs imposed by Britain. 

The spinning wheel became an important, widespread symbol of resistance to British rule in the run-up to the American Revolution.   At that time, to quote from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s The Age of Homespun (Vintage, 2001), “Only six newspaper stories explicitly described the spinners as ‘Daughters of Liberty.’ ‘Young women’ was the usual designation, though terms like ‘Daughters of Industry,’ ‘the fair sex,’ and even ‘noble-hearted Nymphs’ also appeared. Reports from Roxbury and Chebacco alluded to public events, referring to the ‘intolerable Burdens now Laid upon us’ and to the necessity of recovering ‘our rights, properties and privileges,’ but the story from Harpswell cautioned that ‘the Ladies are impressed with such a nice Sense of their Liberties derived from their Maker, as not to be very fond of the tyrannic Restraints or the scheming Partisans of any Party…’”

The art of spinning in the United States is kept alive by handicrafters who demonstrate their skill in spinning, weaving and sewing at nostalgic museums such as Williamsburg, Old Salem, and in exhibitions at fairs such as the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar.  Even as spinning has become an re-enactment art form and no longer provides a means of protest ……………..these bookends remind us of our early resistance to foreign domination. 

 

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Studious Monk Bookends Revisited

Studious Monks: Hard-Paste Porcelain bookends, each weighing about 2 lbs and 8 inches in height.

We purchased this pair of monk bookends at an antique show in 2016,  They are porcelain, and carry a mark which we could not identify, but we posted them on July 6, 2016, entitled Studious Monk Bookends.  Very recently, we did identify the mark and the  bookends became very interesting.

The factory mark was an A with a B leaning on it  The mark on a monk was identical except the lower part of the B was not completely formed.The bookends were produced by the Amberg factory in Bavaria, Germany.  This factory produced earthenware and hard-paste porcelain from1709 until 1910.  We guess that the bookends were produced in about 1905 when bookends and monk motifs were becoming popular, which would make them among our earliest bookends.

The factory mark and the mark on the monk is shown.  The information about Amberg and their pottery mark is documented in A Dictionary of Marks by Margaret Taylor, Barrie & Jenkins, London, revised edition by Lucilla Watson, 1992.

 

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Crouching Indian Bookends

Crouching Indian:  Gray metal.  Height 5 inches.  Attributed to Ronson because of the familiar black paint with green highlights. circa 1928. A polychromed variation is depicted on page 63 of Ronson’s Art Metal Works by Stuart Schneider, Schiffer Pub., 2001.

This Indian is crouching over a tree stump and peering into the distance for enemies.. The pose looks realistic.   The exaggerated sweep of the headdress and  very shiny surfaces speak to Art Deco.

The crouching pose is not unique.  An early signed pair, copyright 1911, shows us a crouching Indian peering; into the distance for enemies.  The headdress and the surfaces are more restrained, as we could expect from an earlier date. The artist signed her full name, Nellye Partridge, on the front lip of the bookend.

Indian Ambush:  Bronze plating on gray metal.  Height 7 inches.  Inscription:  Nellye Partridge, Copyright 1911.  Attributed to NAL foundry. Photo from BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion, Seecof, Schiffer Pub. 2012.

We know a Nellye Partridge with a Brooklyn, NY address copyrighted 3 bookend designs: this kneeling indian in 1911 and in 1914 “Babe book ends. Statuette of child lying on one book with feet raised to support others” and “Buffalo book ends. Statuette of buffalo bucking.” In 1913 she had copyrights for several postcards. Little else is known of Nellye Partridge. It is possible that she is the 21year old living in Brooklyn and listed as Nelly E Partridge in the 1900 US Federal Census.

Nellye Partridge signature on Indian Ambush Bookends.

 

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Zuni Buffalo Dance Bookends by Freddie Leekya

Zuni Buffalo Dancer and Drummer. 8 .5”, local rock (zuni stone) carved figures, wood base and upright. Sculptor, Freddie Leekya, painting by Edward Lewis. 2011.

This is the perfect time to tell the story behind our Freddie Leekya Bookends. Freddie Leekya is the grandson of renowned Zuni Master Carver, Leekya Deyuse.  The Albuquerque Museum of Art History exhibit, THE LEEKYA FAMILY: MASTER CARVERS OF ZUNI PUEBLO, runs until September 24, 2017. The exhibit features 350 works by the Leekya family gathered from individuals and galleries and from major museums such as the Heard Museum, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the School of Advanced Research, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Click here to see the NEW MEXICO magazine post  “Stories in Stone”.   We are looking forward to visiting this exhibit in a few week’s time.

In 2011, we visited Zuni Pueblo bringing with us our Leekya Deyuse frog bracelet and ring to show. We had arranged our visit ahead of time with the Zuni Pueblo Visitor Center. We had a magical day.

Leekya Frog Bracelet and Ring made of carved turquoise set in silver.

We were introduced to Robert (son of Leekya Deyuse) and Bernice Leekya (masters of silver and gold jewelry) and Sarah Leekya (daughter of Leekya Deyuse) who was still carving a bit at that time and who when she put my bracelet on her arm almost didn’t give it back. Sarah also called us back to her home to share with us some additional carvings by her father and to have her son show us the hand drill Leekya used in carving his figures.

Four treasured carvings purchased from Sarah Leekya in 2011. Badger, Fox, Fox and Bird.

We visited Freddie Leekya at his studio. He was working on two figures which are now in our collection. Our daughter-in-law fell in love with a Zuni rock carved bear by Freddie.

 

That Christmas Bob was gifted with the Zuni Buffalo Dancer and Drummer Bookends. They were specially ordered from Freddie Leekya. The Buffalo Dance is a social dance and is often performed at festive gatherings. Here is a link Dave Hinkle’s youtube video of the dance being performed in Gallup, New Mexico.

 

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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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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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Monk Bookends: We missed out!

Really enjoyed our perusal of the booths at the Portland Expo Antique Show.  However, we missed out on a pair of very attractive bookends that we would have loved to have added to our collection.  When we first passed Silver Bear Antiques’ booth, they were not yet unpacked.  On the second pass they had been purchased just minutes before we saw them.  Just goes to show that luck and early attendance are not always in sync.  Somewhere someone has a really nice pair.

 

 

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