Do you use bookends, the simple device that buttresses or props up an upright row of books? Bookends are utilitarian, in that they stop a row of books from falling over, but they can also be decorative. Probably book collectors have for centuries used some device or heavy object to stop their books from toppling over, but bookends as we know them today were patented in 1877 by William Stebbins Barnard in the USA. His simple sheet-metal bookends used the weight of the books themselves to make an anchor. These are the sort we still see in libraries today.
Bookends can be made from bronze, cast iron, marble, rock, wood, glass and other materials and can be a lovely decoration in a home or library. The Art Deco era seems to have produced some especially attractive ones and these have become collectors’ items.
Do you collect bookends? A friend of mine collects Dickens bookends and has kindly shared photos of two of them with me. You can see them in the image above.
I see on the web you can buy the ones pictured here – Dickens at one end and Mozart at the other, and only about $3000 for the pair, dating from 1880.
I have seen Dante and Beatrice bookends, several of Shakespeare and his characters, but as yet no Jane Austen bookends – a sad gap in the market. I could fancy Mr Knightley and Mr Darcy holding up my books!
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