Vintage Cast Iron Bookends
Cast iron had been in use for nearly 2500 years. From bridges to toys, doorstops and bookends, cast iron was in wide use through the early part of the Twentieth Century. During this period, many companies in the United States were producing what are now highly collectible items of a bygone era.
Vintage cast iron bookends are among the most highly prized antique collectables. Along with cast iron doorstops and toys, truly vintage cast iron bookends can command very high prices. Several American companies had a heyday producing what were once just decorative items for practical everyday use.
Hubley Manufacturing was just one of several companies that produced what are now collectible antique bookends. Decorative and functional, Hubley bookends were made in variety of finishes with some patterns featuring hand painted detail. Opening in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the early 1890s, Hubley produced cast iron toys, doorstops and cast iron bookends until the company closed in 1965.
Today, vintage bookends by Hubley have sold at auction for several thousand dollars. A hand painted set often referred to as the Sailor and Captain Bookend Set, is quite rare and a great example of classic Hubley work.
The name Bradley and Hubbard has become legendary among collectors of vintage cast iron bookends. The company began as a producer of cast iron clocks but the events of history propelled B and H into the manufacturing of other types of metal goods. Cast iron was a staple material for the production of everything from cookware to doorstops. The period from the early 1900s though the 1940s were the heyday for B and H bookends and several highly collectible items were issued during this period. Some very fine examples of Bradley and Hubbard vintage bookends are in a collection at the Smithsonian Institute.
L. E. Smith Collectible Bookends
Famous for Depression Era glasswork, the L.E. Smith Company created a line of products that have become very collectible. With a history that spans over a century, the Smith Glass Company, as it is now called, has been resurrected. With the company very near the point of closing forever in 2004, help arrived in the form of new ownership. William Kelman purchased the ailing company in 2005. Born in Scotland, Kelman must have seen that the business of pressed glass production could be sustained.
The L.E. Smith Company is said to have been founded in the early 1900's by Louis E. Smith. Smith appears to have been a somewhat enigmatic character, moving around to different glass ventures before finally settling in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Martins Ferry, Ohio was the home of the Buckeye Glass Company and Smith is said to have spent time there as a designer during the 1880s. He is rumored to have died, without much notoriety, early in the 1930s.
Doing a search of the online market for collectible bookends, one is likely to uncover several offerings from Depression Era glass manufacturers. The Crystal Rearing Horse bookend set by L.E. Smith was made originally made in clear, cobalt blue, emerald green and amber glass. Several other art glass manufacturers made rearing horse bookends in patterns very similar to the original sets offered by Smith Glass.
The similarity between the L.E. Smith patterns and those from other pressed glass companies is the cause of some confusion among some sellers. Forstoria, New Martinsville and other art glass producers, offered similar rearing horse bookend sets that are often confused with the Smith version.
The price determinants seem to hinge on the age of the set, whether truly vintage or from a recent production run. As with any collectible, the overall condition of the piece has a big effect on its value. Buyer beware is the most rule for anyone in the market for collectible bookends. Copycat pieces abound and the buyer must be certain they are getting the genuine article.
Vintage Fostoria Glass Bookends
From humble beginnings as a pressed glass manufacturer, the Fostoria Glass Company became an industry powerhouse. The vintage glass bookends produced by Fostoria have become a favorite among collectors of antique bookends. Named after the town of Fostoria, Ohio, the company was one of many that set up shop throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia during the 1800s. Pressed glass was inexpensive, making glassware items like bookends available to people of modest means.
Carried along by the advances of the Industrial Revolution, glass making of all types flourished through the middle of the 20th Century. Different from the process of blowing or cutting glass shapes, producing pressed glass involves the use of a mold, with molten glass being forced into the mold Though still an art form, the process of pressing glass was less costly and led to the introduction of inexpensive glassware. Unlike blown and cut glass, the molding process leaves the piece with one or more seam lines.
Fostoria Glass was produced in Ohio from 1887 until 1891. Just as the abundance of coal fueled the kilns of the booming pottery trade in southeast Ohio, natural gas supplied the energy needed to produce glass in Fostoria. When the gas ran out, Fostoria Glass was forced to relocate to West Virginia where it operated until 1986. Through the early 1900s, the company concentrated on pressing glass, eventually expanding into producing high quality blown and cut glass.
Several vintage bookend designs s from Fostoria are highly prized by collectors. Said to be introduced in the early 1940s, the beauty Crystal Lyre bookend was made in what is described as the regency pattern. Another sought-after vintage bookend set from Fostoria is the lovely Glass Owl bookends. Production was reportedly limited to one year, making them quite rare and collectible.
Vintage and antique bookends are offered for sale through a number of sources. As with the purchase of any collectible bookends, the rule is always buyer beware. The demand for vintage pressed glass bookends has created a market for fakes and knockoffs. Always make sure that the item in genuine before you buy.