Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hot Collectibles Include Sand-Filled Cowboy Boots and High-Priced Sculptures

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hot Collectibles Include Sand-Filled Cowboy Boots and High-Priced Sculptures

Article excerpt

For most of us, bookends are little more than brackets: Necessarily utilitarian, sometimes decorative.

An informal poll of young professionals yields two bricks, bowling pins, cement gargoyles, 64-ounce cans of tomato soup, and short cowboy boots filled with sand. After all, keeping books in good standing is important, whether for collectors, college students, or rainy-day readers.

Indeed, bookends need not come out of a foundry or an artist's studio. But booklovers all agree that there are three things a bookend should be: tall enough, wide enough, and heavy. For book collector Charles Gruber, "if you love your books, you tenderly put them together." And then you just as tenderly find the right bookends for them, he says. A brief history The real push for bookend manufacturing started in the 1920s. One can speculate that people started reading a lot more. Many of the foundries that made doorstops also made bookends; in fact today, collectors often confuse large bookends with small doorstops, says Terry Kovel, an antique and collectibles expert based in the Cleveland area. During the Arts and Crafts movement, artisans crafted handmade pieces from copper or clay. Sometimes bookends would come as part of a desk package with a pen rest, blotter ends, stamp box, and lamp. Given Mr. Gruber's propensity for acquiring valuable classics, such decorative weights hold important positions in his household. In the Boston town house he shares with his wife, Kathy, for example, you might see an old New England seaman and a harp player bookending a row that contains a first-edition "Walden," as well as first editions of "Leaves of Grass" and "Moby Dick." Or a cowboy on horseback and an Indian on horseback set flanking a row that shows a 1726 edition of "Gulliver's Travels." On Mrs. Gruber's side of the living room, an Art Deco flower looks light, but upholds a substantial row of women writers, hyphenated by a framed letter written by Sylvia Plath dated 1959. Ms. Kovel and her husband, Ralph, have a bit more volume on their hands. They own 16,000 books. "Fifteen years ago we started buying bookends, and I was a real sport to spend more than $15," remembers Terry. …

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