Description: these classic greyhounds are in excellent condition, and display well from various angles.
Maker: Attr. JB Hirsch
Date: ca 1925
Material: Gray Metal on Marble Base
LKCD#: 424 (LKCD# refers to the Plate# of this set in Collectors Encyclopedia of Bookends)
Rarity ratings are as per Collectors Encyclopedia of Bookends, Kuritzky L and De Costa C, Collector Books, (Publishers) 2006
1-2 VERY COMMON: Consistently available online or in antique malls at all times
3 COMMON Available with regularity, typically seen several times each week online; found with ease in malls or shows
4 UNCOMMON:In online sales, may be seen as often as several times per month. Sporadically found at shows or shops
5 RARE: In online sales, seen only a few times per year. Seen at shows and antiques shops rarely
5* SINGULAR: The pair has only been seen once by the authors
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J. B Hirsch Foundry Company Description:
J. B. Hirsch Foundry history begins with Joseph B. Hirsch’s work with lead and tin in his homeland, Romania. In the early 1900s Hirsch immigrated to the United States, began his own company, originally called The New York Art Bronze Works which soon became one of the country’s largest manufactures of bookends. He began to import his own pieces directly from French foundries, and after World War I he went to Paris and purchased that company’s molds to begin his own casting foundry.
Subsequent acquisition of French, German and Italian bronze molds resulted in what has been regarded as the largest, finest and rarest collection of these items in the world, reported valued at over two million dollars. During World War II French foundries hid their Beaux Arts molds in cellars to avoid plunder from invading armies. Part of the evasion process included breaking the molds into many small fragments, scrambling them, and hiding them underground. It was not until 1948 that Abe Hirsch, son of Joseph, went to Paris to try to resurrect these works of art. Abe personally spent days digging, pulling up floorboards, or moving heavy bins, searching for hidden caches of old bronze works. Abe’s son Stanley, a recent college graduate, was placed in charge of re-assembling exhumed molds that arrived in various pieces. Over the next 15 years, multiple trips abroad resulted in the acquisition of complete molds for over 100 subjects, as well as numerous unidentified pieces, or incomplete molds.
When Stanley Hirsch attended a symposium on the Beaux Arts presented at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art he was surprised to note that he had in his possession the original molds from which the pieces on display were cast. When Hirsch consulted the curator of the Western European section of the museum, he was linked up with Harold Berman, author. Berman was so impressed with the Hirsch pieces, he obtained permission from the company to include 40 examples of their pieces in his next volume of the Bronze Encyclopedia, and planted the suggestion that they might consider producing limited editions of their remarkable French pieces, which has subsequently been a major interest of the company and continues today. Many Hirsch pieces are marked with their logo, and some are dated, but oftentimes the only clue to the maker is the style of the piece. Hirsch pieces are often romantic, elaborate, and elegantly designed.
To date, only figural pieces have been seen. Most of the pieces are cast in pure spelter, and often they reflect the chryselephantine movement, displaying ivorine (celluloid) faces, hands or other parts. Sometimes the figures are entirely metal (spelter) with parts painted to resemble ivorine. “Beethoven” and “The Cellists” are two of the most popular Hirsch pieces. Some of their figural pieces are also seen in plaster; these pieces were made from the same molds as the original metal pieces, but when metal shortages and wartime demand diverted metals to other uses, plaster was substituted.
For more information see:
Kuritzky, Louis, and Charles De Costa. Collector's Encyclopedia of Bookends: Identification & Values. Paducah, KY: Collector, 2006.