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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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Sunbonnet Sue Bookends

Sunbonnet Sue:  Iron.  Height 6 inches.  Unmarked.  Attributed to the Hubley Mfg. Co.    circa 1905.

Sunbonnet Sue:  Iron.  Height 6 inches.  Unmarked.  Attributed to the Hubley Mfg. Co.    circa 1905.

This little girl is known as Sunbonnet Sue.  The image was created by the artist and illustrator Bertha Corbett (Melcher) (1872-1950).  Sue became an illustration for the book The Sunbonnet Babies Primer (1900) and for a very popular series of children’s books entitled Sunbonnet Babies  (1902).  You can read an excellent article on Bertha Corbett Melcher in the Minnesota Historical Society publication, Minnesota History Magazine.

Sue has remained a relatively unchanged embroidery and quilt pattern from before 1900 until today.  She also appeared on postcards, dishes, ashtrays and quilts after 1900. Margaret Hobbs Cook, at 104 years young,  has spanned that  century of Sunbonnet Sue’s popularity and Margaret was still quilting at 103.

 

We attribute these bookends to Hubley. Hubley began in 1894 and produced quality painted iron toys, doorstops,  bookends and other products until about 1970.  Because the Sunbonnet Sue image originated and became very popular early on, we guess that Sue bookends were first issued in the first decade of the twentieth century. Many of the Sunbonnet Sue bookends that we see are poorly cast and extensively rusted.  This pair has apparently original paint and in five colors.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2016 in Art Styles, Literary, Victorian

 

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Lichfield Cathedral Bookends

West Face of Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral: Iron. Height 7 inches. Inscription: Lichfield Cathedral Copyright 1928.

These well-cast iron bookends by Connecticut Foundry are of the West Face of the Lichfield Cathedral in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England. LIchfield Cathedral was built during the thirteenth century and stands today as a premier example of Gothic architecture in England. It is the only medieval church in England with 3 spires.  The two spires depicted on the bookends are about 200 feet high. A third and taller spire at the east end of the cathedral is not represented on the bookends. The three spires together are known locally as the “Ladies of the Vale”. It is thought that Anna Seward, a late-eighteenth century romantic poet, daughter of the Canon of Lichfield Cathedral, and called the “Swan of Lichfield”, popularized this appellation through her writings.

There are several pairs of bookends depicting the Lichfield Cathedral.  This pair was cast by the Connecticut Foundry.  Not much is known about this foundry, but they issued numerous bookends in the first few decades of the twentieth century.  Connecticut Foundry bookends are nearly all unpainted iron with a light brown finish and in low relief.  These bookends are a special effort by the foundry because they are cast with great detail and are painted gold.

Connecticut Foundry Makers Mark on reverse of Lichfield Cathedral Bookends

Connecticut Foundry Makers Mark on reverse of Lichfield Cathedral Bookends

These Lichfield Cathedral bookends were a gift from Souvenir Building Collector, Mark Fine.

 

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“Trecking West” Prairie Schooner Bookends

Photo of Trecking West Bookends

“Trecking West”, Painted Iron. 6″. Circa 1930. Cincinnati Artistic.

From the 1840s to the 1860s, wagons called Prairie Schooners, Covered Wagons, Conestoga Wagons, or the Camels of the Prairies provided the transportation of migrating families, merchants, gold-seekers, and more, across the plains and the mountains of the western United States.  This bookend pair is cast in low relief, but it is busy. The artist has managed to include one covered wagon, two pairs of yoked oxen, two people, and the title – “Trecking West”.  The title honors the American “Trek”, a word borrowed from the South African Boers’ depiction of their migration in the 1830s to the more northerly territories on the African Continent.

Photo of Cincinnati Artistic inscription

Reverse of “Trecking West” bookends showing Cincinnati Artistic and Patent Appl. For inscriptions

The foundry that made “Trecking West” is more than likely Cincinnati Artistic Wrought Iron Works Co. This company operated from the late 1890s until August of 1995 when as Artistic Wrought Iron it sold off it’s remaining stock with an advertisement in the “antiques” classifieds of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  It was known for it’s quality lamps and other architectural wrought iron items during the 1930s. A lamp from Cincinnati Artistic Wrought Iron Works was appraised by David P. McCarron on the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW in 2010. Click here to reach that appraisal video.

Several Western bookends feature covered wagons. Hubley made at least 2 different versions, one of which is shown below. W.H. Howell’s contribution to the genre is documented in the BOOKEND REVUE, Fig. 194, Seecof & Seecof, and in Gerald P. McBride’s book, A Collector’s Guide to CAST METAL BOOKENDS, on page 108.

Electroformed bronze Covered Wagon bookends signed by Paul Herzel and attributed to Pompeian Bronze can be found on page 48 of BOOKENDS: Objects of Art and Fashion, Seecof & Seecof, 2012.

Photo of Covered Wagon bookends

The Covered Wagon. 5.5″, electroformed bronze. Signed Paul Herzel. Attrib. to Pompeian Bronze. Circa 1920.

 

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Fairy Tale Cottage Bookends

Fairy Tale Cottage: Painted Iron.  Unmarked.  Circa 1920.

Fairy Tale Cottage: Painted Iron.  Unmarked.  Circa 1920.

This cottage does not look like a very good home for people, and it is not.  This is a fairy tale cottage, one that might be an illustration in a book of fairy tales; tales like Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood.  Fairy tales have been entertaining children for a very long time.  Their origins are hidden in folk tales.  Fantasy became entertaining for adults in the twentieth century, and in the nineteen twenties and thirties there were a number of whimsical houses built in the so-called Storybook House architectural style in America and in England.  These houses were built to evoke fairy-tale buildings for playful buyers. Click on the following 2 links to view some examples of Storybook Architecture in Los Angeles, CA.
Offbeat L.A.: Storybook Architecture in Los Angeles

Photo Gallery of Los Angeles Storybook Homes in Los Angeles, courtesy of L.A. Times Home and Garden.

Nowadays, of course, fantasy tales are wildly popular for children and adults.  We watch super heroes and talking animals in movies, on TV, and in electronic games,  embellished with special effects and animation.  Storybook cottages are no longer representative of our modern fairy tales, but these bookends are a reminder of the days when books filled with eerie illustrations of tales and early times were found on every child’s bookshelf.

 

 

 

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Cigar-Store Indian Bookends

Photo of Cigar Store Indian Bookends

Cigar Store Indians: Iron. Height 9.5 in. Inscription: The Strata Group 1988. There is a Strata Group in Baltimore, but they deny issuing these bookends. The foundry remains unknown.

Cigar-store Indians have a long history.  They appeared first in England in the seventeenth century with the arrival of tobacco.  The English knew that the new import of tobacco coming into the country was derived from the tobacco used by American Indians.  They responded by stationing carved wooden Indians outside the new tobacco shops as advertising figures.  In the eighteenth century, life-sized wooden Indians appeared outside American tobacco shops.  Today antique carved wooden Indians are valuable collector’s items and are quite rare.  Wooden Indians are no longer seen outside tobacco shops, and shops like these are nearly gone.

There is, however, one pair of recently-produced bookends to remind collectors and tobacco lovers of the wooden advertising Indians of bygone eras.  Each Indian of this pair presents a handful of cigars because Indians holding cigars were commonplace and were called cigar-store Indians.  The bookends are not carved of wood,  and they are novelties rather than serious art work,  but they are cast in substantial iron, and they are fun conversation pieces  Recent iron bookends are somewhat unusual because relatively few pairs of iron bookends were produced after 1930, and today new bookends are frequently of resin.

 

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OP-ART Bookends

Photo of Op-ART Bookends

Optical Art Bookends, height 5 inches.

Here we have rare and very unusual bookends.  Each bookend has a rippled face and the eye finds it difficult to resolve the  pattern.  An effect of rippling water is created.  What did the sculptor intend?  Apparently  these are bookends in the style of Optical Art.

Optical Art was a style of abstract, non-objective art which used patterns or figures to fool the eye and create optical effects such as the illusion of movement. This art style grew up and regressed in the nineteen sixties, and we do not see much of it today.

These bookends are bronzed iron, five inches high, and with no inscriptions.  We guess they date from the sixties. The artist and the foundry are unknown.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2013 in Art Styles, Modernist

 

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