Sunday, September 25, 2011

Me Hearties

Sculpture and kitsch and vintage metal - all rolled into one. I couldn't walk by these two sitting on the ground in a thrift shop. It is the craftsmanship, the quirkiness and the novelty of these bronze bookends which took my imagination. I have them listed in my ebay shop

Bronze is an alloy 90% copper and 10% tin. Because it stays liquid when melted for a long time, it is ideal for pouring into intricate molds.  Bronze sculptures go back to 4,000BC in Iran and Mesopotamia. Earlier attempts saw craftsmen experiment with mixing arsenic with copper - hmm... short lived experiment. Tin was discovered by the survivors as a better mix!

These babies were made using a galvano method of plating popular in the 1920s which was a time consuming and expensive process (which is why it is no longer done commercially.) It involved dipping the plaster mold into molten bronze which was electrically charged so it stuck onto the plaster in a gradually build up of layers (taking hours, sometimes days).
Shall we say then that these two were kind of keelhauled in hot bronze?

Bookends themselves were developed in the 16th century. Up to that time, books were kept on lecterns and stored vertically - book shelves then had to be invented to make getting that book on the bottom accessible without having to move all of them every time. Bookends were developed as a means of stopping books falling of shelves and hitting people on the head! Hence the necessity for their substantial weight. These days they also serve as decorative objects.

I swear that these two are slightly different - perhaps the same face - but the face angle is different or are they different pirate faces? You decide! But pirates continue to be a romantic theme (OK Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom have helped this). They were terrible people who lived terrible lives but they represent a sense of freedom - they offer us an alternative to our daily lives. Their's was a life not bounded by social conventions. We can gloss over the fact that people genuinely feared them (for good reason), they were thieves, murderers and rapists, they enslaved others, and their lives were ruled by risk taking. Not having responsibilities to tie you down sounds like fun - but I am not sure about their short life spans. Better to live in the fast lane and die young? My opinions change about this as I age.


  1. Those are super cool! What a great find!

  2. Very informative - I didn't know about the galvano process or how book shelves and book ends developed.

  3. They do look a bit different! It's the angle of the face.. and one appears to have a necklace! Love the little history on how they are made... very cool. And I'm with you on getting older and my perspective on life changing. I appreciate so many more subtle and "quiet" things now than I did when I was younger! Hmmmm..... -- Sea Marie

  4. I love these guys! Fantastic!

    Following you from Etsy Vintage Team-