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"Pirate On a Treasure Chest" Bookend with Cedar Lined Box /Cold Painted Spelter with Ivorine Face/J.B.Hirsch Foundry/Circa 1932

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Bookends148 of 233Unusual Ceramic Bookends Old wooden book ends.
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    Posted 7 years ago

    (1145 items)

    Oh boy, this was a budget buster but I simply could not leave it behind ! It's a bookend actually and made by the J.B. Hirsch Foundry around 1932. It's made of spelter or French bronze which is zinc and a few other metals in the formula. Very heavy stuff !! It's been cold painted to look like bronze. His face is Ivorine which is celluloid, an early form of plastic. Real ivory had been banned by the early 1930's. It would have been one of a pair there is also a female pirate bookend. There appears to be several finishes and styles. Some are painted in colors and others have silver chests and bronze figures or marble bases and just the figure. This one is all bronze color and may have had a felt on the bottom which is gone . The interior of the chest is lined with cedar. I didn't realize it was a box until the clerk at GW took it out of the case. It was incredibly heavy at least five pounds and measuring 6 1/2" tall x 5 1/2" long x 3 1/2 wide . It had "as is" written on it because one of the hinge pins was missing and being held together by a twisted paper clip. I put a brass nail in it and clipped it to size when I got home. The other side has it's thin tiny loop broken on the lid so a pin can no longer hold it in place. So one side is fine and the other is broken. A great find even with the small amount of damage. Now I have to find the other one so I can have a pair ! -Mike-

    J.B. Hirsch Company

    The JB Hirsch story begins in 1907 with the New York Art Bronze Works in Manhattan’s lower east side. The founder of the company, Romanian metalsmith, Joseph B. Hirsch, began importing pieces directly from French foundries. Around that period, foundries with close ties to the talented artists and sculptors of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, began producing their now famous works in “French Bronze.” Some of the finest talent throughout Europe trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, exhibiting their works at the Salon de Artistes and other great Salons in Paris, the center of the art world.
    Between the wars, during the 1920s and 1930s, an entirely new modern style of decorative art emerged, using a combination of bronze and ivory. With the ban of ivory in the early 1930s, ivorine or celluloid (predecessor of plastic) was used in its place. The ivory or ivorine representing exposed flesh and the bronze or spelter representing clothing. The combination of “French Bronze” (spelter) and ivory or ivorine were fully exploited during the Deco period using events of discovery (opening of King Tut’s Tomb in the 1920s), celebrities, athletes (1936 Olympics), children, the fashions and costumes of the period by Erte and Gerdago, and dancers from the Ballet Russe,
    After World War I, when the French occupation closed one of Hirsch’s primary suppliers, he went to Paris and purchased that company’s molds to begin his own casting foundry. With the acquisitions of additional molds from French, German and Italian foundries, Hirsch was able to put together the finest and rarest collection of Beaux Arts, Nouveau and Deco sculptural molds in the world.
    During World War II, the French foundries were again prohibited from using metal for statues. To prevent the valuable sculptural art from being destroyed by marauding armies, the molds were broken up, the pieces scattered, buried under factory floors, and hidden in house cellars. Most French foundries remained closed after World War II, and the molds remained hidden.
    In 1948, J.B. Hirsch’s son, Abraham, heard of their existence, and planned “archaeological expeditions” to France to search for the buried mold fragments. Between 1948 and 1963 Abraham Hirsch was able to piece together over 200 objects and acquire the molds from 15 “French Bronze” foundries. Abraham’s son, Stanley was put in charge of reassembling exhumed molds that arrived in pieces. After attending a symposium on the Beaux Arts by the NY Metropolitan Museum of Arts, Stanley Hirsch discovered he was in possession of the original molds from which the displayed pieces were cast. Putting together the puzzle of scrambled parts is still an ongoing process.
    Today, JB Hirsch bookends -- romantic, elaborate, and elegantly designed -- are the most sought after of all bookend manufacturers. They are usually figural pieces cast in pure spelter (“French bronze”) and usually reflect the chryselephantine movement, displaying ivorine (celluloid) faces, hands and other parts. In some cases, the parts are painted to resemble ivorine.

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    1. pops52 pops52, 7 years ago
      Great find Mike! Love this kind of stuff!
    2. mikelv85 mikelv85, 7 years ago
      Thanks pop52 :) too !
    3. mikelv85 mikelv85, 7 years ago
      Thank you id.... I try my best :)
    4. mikelv85 mikelv85, 7 years ago
      Thank you Phil :) I read somewhere that French bronze may also have a higher percentage of copper in it. This is definitely a spelter piece. I agree it's semantics.
    5. mikelv85 mikelv85, 7 years ago
      You were the first person I thought of Phil when I saw this because you have the pixies. Which I still want to find someday. So I knew what it probably was but it's not marked. Neither is my elephant lamp. I just knew the look was right from what you've posted. The ivorine was also a clue that it was Hirsch. I agree about the breaking part. The lid on this plus the figure is so heavy those little hinges didn't stand a chance. Should be an easy fix but I'd want it done right or maybe it would be better left as it is.
    6. Virginia.vintage Virginia.vintage, 7 years ago
    7. mikelv85 mikelv85, 7 years ago
      Thank you Virginia :)
    8. tom61375, 7 years ago
      I cannot find these to save my soap. I always enjoy seeing these on CW. =)
    9. mikelv85 mikelv85, 7 years ago
      Thanks Tom :)...... It's just random luck in my case. Not a common item by any means.
    10. mikelv85 mikelv85, 7 years ago
      Ooooops :P....Sorry icollect... I was just talking to idclosienne.
    11. rlwindle rlwindle, 7 years ago
      I just bought one of these myself, haven't posted it yet. I own the clock, the lamp, two change valets, and the bookends that go with this pirate set, this box makes it complete now. I have a lot of the lady pirate items just need the box like this that she sits on. I also have all of the standing pirate items in this line, I am only missing the pipe rest for them. I love them.

      Congrats on you find.

    12. mikelv85 mikelv85, 7 years ago
      Thanks so much Russ :) I love art deco pieces and every once and a while I'm fortunate enough to find one. -Mike-
    13. LoveAGoodFind, 6 years ago
      My mother-in-law had this piece and was going to give it away. I told her I wanted it so she let me have it. It's in good condition and was so intriguing to me. Can anyone shed a light to its value?
    14. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      With Hirsch pieces the value is going to depend on the condition and the subject matter and whether you have the pair or not. There's a female pirate since these are bookends so there's the greater value. I've seen this one in the two to three hundred dollar range and up for the pair when I was researching this piece.
    15. LoveAGoodFind, 6 years ago
      Thanks Mikelv85!

      I have the male only. Has anyone, to your knowledge, purchased just the male? If so , do you know the general price of same? It's in excellent condition; not missing any hinges, has the wood lining inside that is also excellent. There is felt on the bottom of the piece; I'm assuming so it doesn't scratch furniture that is a little ragged on one edge. Other than that it's perfect!
    16. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      This will give you an idea on this site. Great info too !
    17. LoveAGoodFind, 6 years ago
      Thanks, Mike!

      I've been trying to track down the origins of this piece. Very interesting!
    18. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      You're welcome LoveAGoodFind :)
    19. Bbswpb1, 1 year ago
      I have his brother! Even down to the broken hinge! He was my friend from childhood - about 70 years. I was really excited to hear the background for non-obvious reasons. My grandpa was a collector, not because he was an art connoisseur, but because there was an elderly German woman in his neighborhood in Brooklyn who was monetarily poor but she had a lot of “stuff.” So when she needed help, she would call my grandfather and he would go “buy” something; and my guess has always been that this is one of them.

      However, you just opened a can of worms for me. My grandmother was a Hirsch - or Hirsh, Hirschkowitz, Hirschkovitz or or or... - and they were from Romania. I couldn’t be a direct Hirsch descendant of these Hirsches because my grandmother was one of seven sisters and then one brother who, I believe, did not live to adulthood. Now I have a reason to do 23andMe. I’m going to attempt to upload my pictures below.


    20. Bbswpb1, 1 year ago
      Mike, I can’t figure out how to paste them to you. Do you have any suggestions?

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