Personal Effects, Jan. 1
By Jerry Sampson
Question: Jerry, My great-grandfather was a brass founder in a local engineering works in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. He cast this pair of solid brass bookends, probably at the end of the 19th century or beginning of the 20th century and they have been passed down through the family.
They depict a young boy and girl standing by a picket fence and a vine-covered tree trunk. Up close, they are quite detailed, showing wrinkles in the fabric of their clothes, petals on the flowers, and individual curls in the young people’s hair.
I would never sell the bookends but I am curious to know what you think about them and what they might be worth today. As a reader I love interesting bookends and I’m always on the lookout for good ones.
Answer: I love books and bookends too. Well, I just have to say that I’m blown away with these bookends and this incredible story. Imagine, being able to say that your great-grandfather actually made these.
I poured through everything that I had. Every reference book I had on bookends, yes, there are such things. I found nothing.
I can tell from the photos that they are high quality and your great- grandfather certainly knew his stock and trade. A high quality piece is going to show these intricate details.
Bookends have been around for centuries and centuries. I guess, they might have used some type of book holding object, even at the library of Alexandria. So bookends have been around for a long, long time.
Your bookends have a fancy Victorian feel to them, I think that you’re right with the date, 1890s to the early 1900s is spot on. Later the quality would suffer, as things were hurried up and shoveled out the door.
The great thing, other than holding up your books, is that they are decorative and many artists, manufacturers and designers let their imaginations go wild.
Here’s the deal. Bookends are handy to use and they can be worth serious money. Many cross the line from utility to art form in no short order. These are right up there. A collector or designer would just go crazy over them.
I love the fact that you’re keeping them polished. If they are shiny keep them shiny, if they are dark, keep them dark. You didn’t give me a size on them but I’d wager that they are hefty in size and weight. I would expect at a high end antiques show that these beauties will be priced at about $350.
As an appraiser, I know that there is no such thing as priceless, but their history makes them priceless to your family. Never, never let them be split up and write this history down for future generations. Thanks for sharing them.