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.
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.