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Indian Encampment Bookends

Indian Encampment:  Bronze.  Height 5.25 inches.  Shopmark:  AC with a line between the two letters, a copyright sign and the number 108.

Indian Encampment:  Electroformed Bronze.  Height 5.25 inches. Circa 1910.  Shopmark:  AC with a line between the two letters, a copyright sign and the number 108.

We saw this pair recently and were very surprised.  We thought we had already seen all the Indian bookends, but this pair was new to us.  It is probably very rare.

An Indian holding his pipe sits with his back against a large tree trunk, with a fire circle at his feet.  Two tipis are in the background.  The scene is enclosed in an art-nouveau or aesthetic style frame. It has the feel of a George Caitlin painting.

Photo of Bookend Shopmark

Shopmark on reverse of Indian Encampment Bookends. Foundry has not been identified.

Tipis were houses for the plains Indians.  Each tipi was constructed from supporting poles, tied at the top to give a cone shape and covered with tanned bison hides.  A tipi could be disassembled and carted away, pulled by dogs or horses.  Portability was very important because these people were nomadic and followed the herds of bison across the plains. The tipi on the bookends is representative of what artists in the early 20th century thought tipis looked like, it does not show flaps for a smoke hole and is therefore referred to as a stylized cone according to the author of “Historic Photos of Tipis” website.

Photo of Indian and Tipi

Indian and Tipi with additional Tipis in background.

 

 

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Charro Bookends

Charro Bookends:  Gray metal and “mexican marble or onyx”.  Height 6.25 inches.  Inscription:  ArtemetalicA  S.A.  Hecho en Mexico.

Charro Bookends:  Gray metal and “mexican marble or onyx”.  Height 6.25 inches.  Inscription:  ArtemetalicA  S.A.  Hecho en Mexico.

The charro is a Mexican horseman or cowboy who competes in a charreada.   HIs traditional costume is a fancy sombrero, a beautifully-embroidered short jacket, tightly-cut and decorated trousers, and boots.  With lariat in hand, our bookend charro is ready to win the heart of a lady while showing off his skill with the rope.

The Charreada is a Mexican rodeo, and it is the national sport of Mexico.  It is a formal exhibition of horsemanship that dates back to the sixteenth century and is a predecessor of the American rodeo.  Today charreadas can  be seen in Mexico (Click here for photos of a Charreada from The Guardian in 2014) and in the U.S (Click here for a link to the San Antonio, Texas organization ). We found these bookends in the heart of California’s Central Valley, which has a tradition of rodeos and vaqueros.

It is unusual to see metal bookends from Mexico.  Most Mexican bookends we see are relatively crudely shaped stone pairs, generally greenish yellow, sold as mexican onyx. They can be found in craft and tourist shops at border crossings.

These Charro figures are finely cast of metal and each is mounted on single block of mexican onyx. The detail is excellent. You can see the embroidery on the jacket and the metal “galas” down the outside seams of the pants.  There is a paper label on one of the bookends identifying the maker as

Paper labels on base of one of the Charro Bookends

Paper labels on base of one of the Charro Bookends

Recently we visited a bronze foundry in Tijuana, B.C.,Mex. . While our bookends were not made at this particular foundry, it is an example of the type of foundries to be found in Mexico where quality casting work like this is done today.

 
 

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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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Bookends for Desert Lovers

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The California and Arizona Deserts are in high bloom this 2016 Spring.  Saguaro Cactus, Skulls, and Brown Earth are the symbols we usually associate with the deserts of the Southwest and here are two pairs of vintage bookends that represent those symbols.

Desert Scene: Bronze deposited on gray metal, Height 6 inches, Shopmark: J.B. 1357. circa 1930.

Desert Scene: Bronze deposited on gray metal, Height 6 inches, Shopmark: J.B. 1357. circa 1930.

These bookends were produced by Jennings Brothers, a well respected foundry which functioned from about 1891 to about 1955 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  A dramatic steer skull is shown against a backdrop of Saguaro cacti.

The desert of the Southwestern U.S. supports a small number of grazing cattle, and it is not surprising to find their skulls bleaching in the sun on the desert floor.  The Saguaro cactus is found only in the Sonoran desert of The Southwest U.S. and Mexico.  A plant can grow up to 60 feet tall and live up to 200 years.  Bleached skulls are available commercialy as decorative pieces or Indian artifacts.

A Saguaro and a type of Opuntia (Prickly Pear) cactus stand in this scene.  The bookends are  fashioned from a solid block of wood and painted.  Wood bookends are generally not as desirable as those from metal, and these were very inexpensive.  But, a close exam shows they have some merit.  First, they are signed M.M. The wood is heavy and coated with gesso.  The face is made concave which helps the mountains to recede.  The scene of desert floor with mountains in the background rings true.  The painting is very careful, and the scenes on the pair match very well.  The pair is very pleasing to collectors who love the desert.

 

 

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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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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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Victorian Cowboy Bookends

Photo of Cowboy Bookends

Victorian Cowboy:  solid grey metal, 7.5 inches, unmarked.

It is strange to see bookends featuring a cowboy positioned in a Greek revival archway, but here they are.  The cowboy is mounted on a rearing steed.  The archway is constructed with typical Greek Ionic columns and with a keystone.

Today we do not associate cowboys with ancient Greece, but western movies were already popular in the USA in the first decade of the last century, and Victorian art styles were still popular as well.  Greek revival was a Victorian style, so the bookend artist probably saw no conflict with cowboys in Greek archways.  The image, though, suggests that the bookends were issued very early in the twentieth century to please both the Victorians and the lovers of Western action. For example in 1903 the western film THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY showed the outlaws escaping on horses.

 

 

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