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SNEAD & Co CAST IRON CAT BOOKENDS c.1925

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    Posted 2 years ago

    vetraio50
    (751 items)

    In Australia it is fairly uncommon to see vintage American items in op-shops where I do my hunting for ‘treasures’. So when I came across these cast-iron bookends I was happy to take them home and find out a little more about Snead & Co of Jersey City.

    The history of the company goes back the nineteenth century when the foundry was established in 1851 on Market street in Louisville between Eighth and Ninth.

    Charles Scott Snead (1820 - 1903) was the President of the Snead & Co. Iron Works, his son Udolpho Snead was Vice President and the General Manager was William R. Snead. The foundry was in Louisville, Ky and they also had offices in Chicago Ill. Their forte was the casting of ornamental wares in iron and then the electro-deposition of surface decoration or bronzing using the ‘Dynamo Machine’, a form of electroplating, I suppose. An online catalogue of 1890 shows a fine display of fencing, balustrades, stairs & architectural decor all in elaborate cast-iron.

    But by 1910 they had branched out into shelving for public libraries. Major contracts came their way when an innovative design by the architect Angus Snead Macdonald (1883-1961) for a cast iron book shelving system for public libraries that changed the face of library building projects all over the USA - all part of Andrew Canegie’s public literacy initiatives. The Library of Congress used this shelving and in New York the newly built Public Library installed 75 miles of Angus’ book shelving prior to opening in 1911. It became 'the standard' for library storage for the early twentieth century. Even the Vatican used their stack shelving. The foundry at this stage was in Jersey City, NJ and was later moved to Orange County prior to WWII. The business was sold in 1946 to the Phoenix Iron Co and it became Orange Metal Products.

    Snead & Co could produce anything and everything that could be achieved in cast-iron. A spin-off in the 1920's were a series of designs for the domestic library - bookends with bronzed finishes and with coloured surfaces. All rust free. There were cast figures galleons, sphinxes, scribes, historical figures, the Thinker (Rodin), Virgins and Child, Pegasus, Scholars and of course 'Cats'.

    The Cat motif was a bit of a bonus. I've read on the net that there is mention of Snead & Co. ‘Halloween’ book ends and ‘bats’ rather than ‘cats’ .... some even describe them as 'mediaeval'. Not sure why. This solid, sturdy set of mine is well marked front and back Patent Pending #103, the design dated 1925 on the front.

    They measure 3 ½ x 4 1/2"

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    Comments

    1. jscott0363 jscott0363, 2 years ago
      Wonderful set of bookends and so nicely detailed!
    2. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
      Many thanks JSCOTT !!!! I thought they might appeal ...
    3. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
      Many thanks WATCHSEARCHER !!!!!
    4. dav2no1 dav2no1, 2 years ago
      Cool...nice history..
    5. keramikos, 2 years ago
      vetraio50, Very cool. :-)

      I like the way the cats' little mouths are open. Are they vocalizing, flehmening -- or getting ready to bite? };-)

      No joy on finding the book end design patent.

      More about the library shelves:

      https://patents.google.com/patent/USD65444

      https://slate.com/human-interest/2016/02/how-snead-bookshelves-made-america-s-biggest-libraries-possible.html

      https://blogs.loc.gov/preservation/2022/04/
    6. PhilDMorris PhilDMorris, 2 years ago
      Highly unusual pose and congratulations on a very collectible set of these. I have always loved bookends !~
    7. Michelleb007 Michelleb007, 2 years ago
      I love these Kevin!
    8. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
      Many thanks to PHIL, DAV2, MICHELLE & KERAMIKOS a for your kind comments and links. Thanks as well to NEWFLD, BHIFOS, COKEMAN, OFFICIALFUEL, EZA, DAV2, VINYL & FORTAPACHE too for the Loves.
    9. racer4four racer4four, 2 years ago
      An unusual find for sure in our op shops. I can count on one hand the times I have seen anything from the USA.
      They are very cool, I love the cats.
    10. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
      Many thanks KREN !!!!! Did you do Wenty ?.? Missed it.
    11. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
      Many thanks CISUM, SHERRILOU, VCAL, GIANA & DRAKE !!!!!
    12. inky inky, 2 years ago
      Love them, great they are still together too! especially in a op-shop..nice find..
    13. kivatinitz kivatinitz, 2 years ago
      what a nice post such a lot of information, thanks a lot
    14. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
      Many thanks VCAL, SHERRILOU, CISUM and LEELANI for the loves and to KIVATINITZ & INKY for those kind comments.
    15. vetraio50 vetraio50, 2 years ago
      Many thanks IRISHCOLLECTOR !!!
    16. SEAN68 SEAN68, 2 years ago
      beautiful bookends!!
    17. Budek Budek, 1 year ago
      Great Kevin, I love them!
    18. rhineisfine rhineisfine, 1 year ago
      I love cast iron bookends, they are so substantial -- and these cats have tons of character! Wonderful find.
    19. vetraio50 vetraio50, 1 year ago
      Many thanks TONINO, SEANB & RHINEISFINE for those kind comments and to CHRISSY, LEIGHANNM, SANHARDIN for the Loves too !!!!!
    20. IronLace IronLace, 1 year ago
      They are so magical, Kevin - what a super find!
      I would have jumped on these if I saw them, as they combine some of my favourite things - cats, books, & that GOTHIC vibe!
    21. bethany3cat, 1 year ago
      Love, love, love your cats! What a wonderful find. After all, cats and books go so well with each other. I think the expression is one of laughter, because the cat knocked a book off the shelf, LOL.

      Like one of the other commenters, I, too, find it very serendipitous that you were able to find the pair of them still together !
    22. vetraio50 vetraio50, 1 year ago
      Many thanks for the Love CHRISSY !!!!!
    23. vetraio50 vetraio50, 1 year ago
      Many thanks to MARIN & BETHANY a for the kind comments too !!!

      The idea of the smile and guilt is really cool.
    24. vetraio50 vetraio50, 1 year ago
      Many thanks TREY & BLAMMOAMMO !!!!!
    25. AnythingObscure AnythingObscure, 1 year ago
      WONDERFUL in EVERY respect -- your pair of bookends with their kitty cats, even moreso the fascinating history of their maker that you took the time and trouble to research and share with all the rest of us here. THANK YOU, vetraio50. :-)
    26. vetraio50 vetraio50, 1 year ago
      Many thanks YOUGOTTAHAVESTUFF & to ANYTHINGOBSCURE for the kind words.
    27. vetraio50 vetraio50, 1 year ago
      Many thanks FALCON & ELAINEP !!!!
    28. AmphoraPottery AmphoraPottery, 1 year ago
      The cats' expression is what set this apart for me. Nice find.
    29. vetraio50 vetraio50, 1 year ago
      Many thanks AMPHORAPOTTERY !!!!!
    30. vetraio50 vetraio50, 1 year ago
      Many thanks SEANB !!!!
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