Tag Archives: Copper

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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Erhard Glander Bookends

 Copper, height 4.5 inches. Inscription: HAND WROUGHT. plus a shopmark of a hand above a circle that encloses a G.  circa 1935.

Copper, height 4.5 inches. Inscription: HAND WROUGHT. plus a shopmark of a hand above a circle that encloses a G.  circa 1935.

It is always exciting to run across an unfamiliar shopmark that just might be for a little-known, but collectible american craftsman. We did just that, a few weeks ago at the The Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Phoenix, AZ.  We found a pair of copper bookends with a unique stamp – a capital G in a circle with a hand above it:

Erhard Glander Shopmark. Also shopmark for Glander Ornamental Iron Works, Saukville, WI

Erhard Glander Shopmark. Also shopmark for Glander Ornamental Iron Works, Saukville, WI

After a bit of a search we found GLANDER ORNAMENTAL IRON WORKS in Saukville, WI. It turns out that the founder, Erhard Gander, was trained as a coppersmith in Germany and then emigrated to America in the nineteen twenties.  He opened a workshop in West Allis, Wisconsin in 1932, specializing in copper and brass artworks. In 1937 he moved the workshop to Saukville.

We think these bookends are from the early 1930s. They are not the L- shaped copper bookends which we usually see, but they are hand-fashioned Arts and Crafts objects none-the-less.  Each bookend is wrought from copper sheeting, cut and trimmed, hammered, folded, curled, riveted, and rounded on all edges. Glander bookends are not frequently encountered, and these make a nice addition to an Arts and Crafts collection.


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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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Fred Brosi Bookends 1927 – 1933

In November 2013 we posted “Old Mission Kopper Kraft.”  At the time we were unaware of Fred Brosi as the craftsman responsible for those bookends.   The 2013 publication, Bay Area Copper, 1900/1950, Dirk van Erp & His Influence, alerted us to Brosi’s time as a metalsmith in California.  His career spanned from Quincy, IL, where he obtained at least 3 patents related to metal working,  to working in a shipyard in San Francisco Bay,  to establishing a series of decorative metalworks craft shops in San Francisco.  Those Bay Area businesses included Ye Olde Copper Shop, Ye Olde Copper Shoppe and Old Mission Kopper Kraft.  Following the folding of the Old Mission Kopper Kraft company (1922-1925), Brosi continued to make beautifully crafted metal decorative objects in his basement.  The 2 pairs of Bookends seen in this post are from this later period of Brosi’s work, 1927 -1933.

Photo of Fred Brosi Bookends

The bookends are 5 inches tall and 5 inches wide.  The shopmark is an arm and hammer with the words MADE BY  HAND.

Brosi is admired for his meticulous handwork on his metal pieces, and this pair of copper bookends, called Nouveau Flower is a fitting illustration of his expertise.   The face is hammered and linear designs are chased into the margins and the edges.  Parts of the edges are curled. A enameled flower with raised edges and with petals painted red, yellow and green is attached to the face.  The overall artistic design was Brosi’s and the flower petals were painted by Brosi’s wife, the former Selma Sidlowski.

The smaller Owl on Branch copper bookends were produced by Brosi in his basement about the same time as the enameled flower ones, and they bear the same Arm and Hammer and MADE BY HAND mark.  They show similar curling at parts of the edges, similar hammering, and similar linear designs.   The ornamental metal owl on a branch is attached to the face of the bookend.

Other related posts are:  San Francisco Bay Area Metalworkers Colony, Jan. 7, 2014 and Ye Olde Copper Shoppe Bookends, Jan 13, 2014.


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Ye Olde Copper Shoppe Bookends

Photo of Fred Brosi Bookends

Height 6.75 inches, width 6 inches, which is relatively large for this style. circa 1920.

This is a pair of Arts and Crafts style bookends from Ye Olde Copper Shoppe (1917-1922).  In 1916 the metal smiths Fred Brosi and Hans Jauchen  founded Ye Olde Copper Shop at 464 Sutter St in San Francisco.  Sometime in 1917 Jauchen left, taking the name Jauchen’s Olde Copper Shop for his new venture, and Brosi remained at the same location and changed the shop name to Ye Olde Copper Shoppe.  He worked alone (1917-1922) and marked his output “WROT BY FRED BROSI Ye Olde Copper Shoppe SAN FRANCISCO.”  After that interval,  he went on to form a workshop called Old Mission Kopper Kraft  (1922-1925).  We posted  bookends from the Old Mission Kopper Kraft shop on November 27, 2013.

Photo of Ye Olde Copper Shop advertisement

One of six Ye Olde Copper Shop advertisements placed in the January 6, 1917 WASP, a weekly San Francisco Publication.

Photo of Art Metal Works Listings in SF City Directory 1923

Listing of Art Metal Works firms from the 1923 San Francisco City Directory

Bookends from the more recent Old Mission Kopper Kraft shop turn up now and then, but these are the first ones we have seen from Ye Olde Copper Shoppe and they are outstanding pieces of metal work by Brosi, who is known for his intense and painstaking efforts.  The L-shaped copper sheeting format is familiar, but the dense, stippled design on the face was apparently produced by laborious hand tooling.   The face is hammered and bowed outward.  The copper is a heavy gauge.  The shop marks read:  HAND WROT BY FRED BROSI  Ye Olde Copper Shoppe  SAN FRANCISCO.

Photo of Fred Brosi Shopmark

Fred Brosi Shopmark from the years of 1917-23

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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Art Styles, Arts & Crafts


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San Francisco Bay Area Metalworkers Colony

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Immediately after the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906, there was a market for furnishings to restore the great houses that had been ruined.  Local  Bay Area artists began producing household wares in copper and brass with occasional silver or enamel touches to meet the demand.  This engendered a flowering of the Arts and Crafts movement on the West coast which gave us bookends that are very desirable today.  The first coppersmith artist/craftsman who became commercially successful was Dirk van Erp who offered his handmade vases in 1907.  He later became mentor and idol to upcoming local coppersmiths.  Nearly all bookend collectors are probably familiar with van Erp’s bookends, lamps, and other metal creations because they frequently appear in antique shops and shows, always at high prices.

van Erp was followed in the Bay area by a large number of art-metal workers, including Harry St. John Dixon, Agatha and William van Erp,  August Tiesselinek, Fred Brosi, Hans Jauchen,  Armenac Hairenian, and John Willocx (correct spelling) to name only a handful.  These artists and the coppershops they founded continued to function through the nineteen twenties and thirties and some even later.

Photo of Bay Area Copper book cover

Bay Area Copper 1900-1950, Gus Bostrom

This information regarding the Bay Area coppersmiths was taken from the publication entitled  “Bay Area Copper, 1900/1950, Dirk van Erp & His Influence.”   by Gus Bostrom, published by California Historical Design, 2012.  We recommend this book to all collectors; it is based on original sources and will certainly provide a historical perspective to Bay Area coppersmiths, their biographies, their bookends, and copper bookends in general. Especially valuable, the book illustrates many shopmarks that tie bookends to each artist.

In November and December, 2012 California Historical Design in San Francisco hosted an exhibition of the same name, “Bay Area Copper, 1900/1950, Dirk van Erp & His Influence.” Gus Bostrom discusses the exhibition in the California Historical Design youtube video below.

Hand-crafted copper bookends are often small and hard to see from across a room, so collectors tend to ignore them at first.  But these bookends seem to be an acquired taste, like oysters or martinis.  Eventually, they take a respected position in collections, admired for their masterful handwork and their Arts and Crafts credentials. For interested collectors, a discussion of the Arts and Crafts genre can be found in Chapter 4 of BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion.  Bookend Collector  posted copper bookends from the Bay area coppershop Old Mission Kopper Kraft  on November 27, 2013 and we will post additional Bay Area copper bookends soon.

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Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Arts & Crafts


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