Posted 2 years ago
These bookends by Henri Fugere are the product of the H.B. Hirsch Foundry of NYC which produced a lot of statuettes, bookends and lamps. Most often misidentified as being by Gerdago only because a lot of her statues had big hats, but not as nice as this hat !!
The bookends are in The Encyclopedia of Bronzes, Sculptors & Founders, 1830 to 1930 and the author was Harold Berman who was given the information that these bookends were by Henri Fugere circa 1930. The Hirsch family gave him that information, as they owned the original moulds. Harold Berman worked closely with the Hirsch foundry, was one of their biggest fans and actually was working in their bronze foundry where he learned some of the processes. He considered it one of the best, if not the best, foundries in North America at the time he wrote his books, late 70's to earliest 1980's. Unfortunately by the end of the 80's, Mr. Berman had passed away.
Harold Berman was a big fan of the quality pieces of the Hirsch Foundry, particularly of the spelter "French Bronze" statues they produced and the Encyclopedia that Berman wrote shows a lot of their higher end work also, particularly of the "Collection Francaise".
The Hirsch Foundry had received some special information that the original moulds were buried under the floors of the bronze foundries during the war periods and after the second world war were dug up by the Hirsch family, who had the knowledge of their whereabouts with sketched out maps, and the story reads like a real life treasure hunt.
This set has no date but I believe the Hirsch family were producing these especially after 1946 and also in 1966 when they had a big show in NYC showing their new work at that time. They produced some nice ones with alabaster bases and also nice black marble bases mainly, using ivorine for the faces, molded separately at that timespan. The earlier alabaster and marble were made with the finest Italian marbles and alabaster cuts. In the later 70's to 81 or so when the foundry closed, they produced ones with metal faces and metal bases. Usually had a special switch on the cord on the lamp variety no later than around 1960-1970. They were made of Spelter at the time the Hirsch Foundry started producing them. The bookends are roughly over 7 inches high and up to 10 with shade height if made into lamps. Around up to about 7 inches wide.
It is interesting to note that Harold Berman wrote that he does not consider them reproductions but rather "Exemplaires" because they were produced from the original moulds. Also to note is that these pieces are dated as circa 1930 and all pieces are dated that way by the foundry and by Berman because they are made from the original 1930 moulds. As Berman points out these were produced after the second world war and this variety with the bright golds and metallic colours were probably after 1966, as these would have been among the later produced variety of these. I believe that they were being produced until the factory closed down, as these were part of the Collection Francaise. All were hand cold painted by the factory. Some of the earliest production of these most popular bookends of their factory had green marble bases with a shallow well for keys etc to be placed on. The marble was of the finest quality. In one of the episodes of The Twilight Zone you can see one of the earliest that I have seen on a table. It was the episode of man freshly married who cannot leave his mother's house, and becomes her boy again !