JOURNAL — Desk Accessories RSS



The 1910’s: “The Cathedral of Commerce”

When the Woolworth Building was completed in 1913, at 792 feet it was the tallest building in the world—and would remain so until the Chrysler Building surpassed it in 1930. Employing state-of-the-art principles like steel frame construction and high-speed elevators, the Woolworth Building paved the way for even taller skyscrapers in the future.  Yet, despite […]

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The 1910’s: A Touch of the Gothic

Arts & Crafts design often was influenced by other, earlier aesthetic movements: native cultures, heraldry, the medieval.  The designer of the brass humidor, shown above, tapped into the Gothic—as shown in the steel “strapwork” riveted to the sides and tops of the canister. It captures a bit of what I call “Jules Verne Futurism”—a vision […]

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Let's Fly!

A pewter dove flies over the domed lid of this faceted glass tobacco jar from the 1910's or 1920's.  Originally intended to hold pipe tobacco, such a jar is perfect in the kitchen, office or bathroom—to keep handy (with style) the everyday supplies you need.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Time and Tide...

As Geoffrey Chaucer reminds us, "Time and Tide wait for no man." Neither will Christmas (my addition).  Perhaps an Italian cast pewter sandglass will keep you focused on the time. Please click on the photo above to learn more about them.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Owl Hold It!

What do you get when you combine Beauty (Art Nouveau), Wisdom (an owl) and Function (a letter holder)?   You get this handsome and practical desk accessory, made in the 1910's—form, beauty and function. Perfect on a man or woman's desk, this little guy will help you keep-organized in style.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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More Soft Deco

As I mentioned before, I love the softness of English Art Deco.  Unlike it's American counterpart, English Deco pieces seem to have been placed in a gentle tumbler, softly removing any sharp edges. The ashtray shown above was designed by artist Keith Murray for Wedgwood.  Born in New Zealand, Keith's family moved back to England when he was 14.  Although he studied architecture, he was hired by Wedgwood to help execute their new strategy:  to create good-looking ceramic items which could be produced with mass production technology.  Wedgwood realized that young customers (in the 1930's) had good, modern taste, but often little money.  They wanted to produce items which this demographic could afford and would buy.  Unlike other Art Deco...

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Slow and Steady

This Edwardian English brass turtle, made around 1905, stands up off the ground and has a hinged-shell lid.  It's a nice place to keep a spare key, a few pairs of cufflinks, matches on a mantlepiece or clips on a busy desk.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about him.  And take a look at our nice collection of Handsome Gifts for the Holidays—many just acquired on an English buying trip.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Yesterday's Bookends - part II

Here's another Victorian English folding book slide, made in the 1870's - 1890's.  Heavy rosewood is decorated with hand-pierced brass mountings which are riveted to the wood.  Like yesterday's posting, this one has a Jacobean Revival aesthetic.  It will slide open to hold from about eight to a dozen books.  A perfect way to honor your special collection or to keep-handy your most-used reference books.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it. And visit our website to see our collection of "Handsome Gifts"—many of them newly-acquired.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram:...

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Yesterday's Bookends - part I

In the old days, only the wealthiest could afford a library. A wall filled with books was a sign of intelligence, worldliness and lots of money. Poor people might have two or three books, including a Bible. And middle class families might have a dozen books—including poetry, a cooking book, an atlas and a few other reference books.  For such a middle class booklover, a desktop "book slide" (or book rack), shown above, would suit his needs.  Perched upon the desk, it kept those cherished books close-at-hand.  This folding book rack—embellished with hand-cut brass and riveted bone strips—was made in Victorian England, c. 1880.  It revives the style of the Jaccobean period, some 350 years earlier.  "Modern" pairs of bookends,...

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Cheshire Wisdom

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, "What road do I take?"  The cat asked, "Where do you want to go?"  "I don't know," Alice answered. "Then," said the cat, "it really doesn't matter, does it?" What a font of wisdom, this mysterious, mischievous cat! Shown above, an Edwardian English brass dish—in the form of a (grinning?) cat—made around 1910.  Most Englishmen of the day would have known Lewis Carroll's books and its array of crazy characters.  This little dish could be used to hold coins, rings, keys, cufflinks or clips on a desk. It is one of the many new treasures—Handsome Gifts—recently collected in England.   To learn more about it, please click on the...

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Scottish Agate

The Scots love their stones.  Durable, rustic, handsome; like the Scots themselves, these stones are at once attractive and, yet, humble. Naturally adorned.  Not necessarily precious.  I never get tired of Scotland and I never get tired of collecting these Late-Nineteenth or Early Twentieth Century pill boxes.  Although they are best reserved for lighter duty—on […]

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Neat and Tidy

Ah, those were the days.  Simple days when keeping order was so much more…achievable? And every possible need was satisfied in a stylish manner.  Take the French ceramic comb dish, shown above.  It would have sat upon a man’s (or woman’s) dresser (vanity) holding his comb between uses.  It may have been part of a […]

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To My Wise Owl…

Happy Father’s Day—to my wise owl and to all the wise owls out there! To celebrate the occasion, a pair of bronze-clad owl bookends from the 1920’s.  They were made in New York City of sculpted plaster, then electroplated with a solid bronze “skin,” patinated and painted.  They will add an air of wisdom and […]

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Time & Tide

Time and Tide wait for no man.  And the economic laws which lay-heavy on small shops (like mine) never lighten for a minute.  Like with gravity, one can fight the inevitable (for a while) but, sooner or later, Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” will knock you off the table. Tomorrow is our day.  It’s been a […]

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Seeing Clearly

As I approached (and overtook) my 50th birthday, I started noticing that print was getting smaller and smaller!  Why were printers continually decreasing the font sizes they were using?  Well, I discovered a handsome and practical solution:  magnifying glasses!  Shown above, two such examples.  Come-in and see them.  They’re now 25% off.  All merchandise (in-store […]

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Owl Be Seeing You…

Not too much time left—this weekend will probably be the last chance to find a full assortment of merchandise in-store.  We’re selling a lot and starting to pack.  And all merchandise—in-store and on-line—is now marked down (at least) 25% (and some even more).  Here’s a cast iron owl paperweight from Japan—now on sale!   LEO […]

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Spinning, Spinning, Spinning!

Our world is spinning—as we serve an onslaught of customers while trying to pack.  Our 31 January closing date looms large!  Meanwhile, everything is marked-down (in-store and on-line)—including these three handsome globes. Please come-in or check-out our on-line store.   LEO Design will be closing its doors on 31 January.  Please visit the store (or […]

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Elephant Block

This little guy—a baby elephant—is a doorstop and was made of cast iron from the 1920’s. He trumpets to his mother—while never leaving his post (right beside your open door). Please click on the photo above to learn more about him.       Today—and daily through 23 December—LEO Design will be open from Noon […]

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Wisely Organized

A wise owl has alighted at LEO Design—atop a pine bough on this Art Nouveau letter rack. Made in the 1910’s or 1920’s, he’ll bring both knowledge and style to your desk or bookshelf. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.       Today—and daily through 23 December—LEO Design will […]

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Undersea Style

A British fish swims through his undersea domain on this Edwardian English brass letter rack, c. 1905.  Let it bring a little peace (and order) to your home desk or office.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.     Today—and daily through 23 December—LEO Design will be open from Noon ’til […]

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Foxy

A guilty-looking fox paces tensely just outside the garden gate—in this English brass letter rack from about 1920.  He’s part of a recent shipment from England—where I found a large number of Handsome Gifts now in-store.  Please come into the shop to see the complete shipment or click on the photo above to learn more about the […]

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Simple Treasures

I spent a good part of the month shopping in Europe—England and Scandinavia, to be precise.  One of the “little treasures” I found is this simple, folded brass letterknife, fastened tight with a copper rivet.  It makes no pretension at grandeur.  It is just a simple, handsome and useful thing.  Please come into the shop […]

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English Baronial

It’s brass.  It’s Baronial.  And it’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen—amongst letter knives, that is.  Cast in England around 1920, it’ll make a grand statement on your desk or a fabulous prop in Tosca (she could stab Scarpia with it!).  Please come into the shop to see it in person or call us for […]

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Galgo Español

The Galgo Español is an ancient breed of hound from Spain, documented as far back as the second half of the Middle Ages.  This time period coincides with the Reconquista—that is, the period when Spanish Christians re-claimed the lands held by Iberian Muslims.  As Spanish Catholics began to move-down from the more mountainous areas and […]

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La Belle Époch

Ahh, La Belle Époch. “The Beautiful Age.” It was a time of relative peace, economic expansion (for the middle and upper classes), empire (for Europeans and Americans) and wonderful design and craftsmanship. Roughly speaking, the period comprised the final quarter of the Nineteenth Century and the start of the Twentieth Century (until World War […]

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Notes From the Road – part VI

In Edwardian England, white collar tradesmen—architects, interior designers, shop fitters—would travel to the job site to supervise the execution of their creations.  Such men, properly and professionally dressed, would carry a folding measuring stick in their breast pockets or bags—always ready to measure, check, amend, correct.  They would have used tools like these, shown above. […]

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New English Receipts – part XV

We end our little parade of newly-acquired English items with this English Arts & Crafts brass pen tray.  Made about 1900, it is stamped with an exuberant assortment of stylized botanicals.  Intended to hold pens or other desk accoutrements, it would also be perfect at bedside to hold rings, bookmarks, collar stays or a small collection of […]

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New English Receipts – part VII

Before the Twentieth Century, most homes did not have many books.  It was the well-educated (and mostly rich) who could afford the luxury of a home library (think Downton Abbey).  But with the post-War rise of a middle class—which had the money and propensity to collect books—a modest home library became more common.  For this […]

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Welcome, LEO!

Today, 23 July, marks the first day of LEO.  It is also the shop’s (ceremonial) 21st birthday and the third anniversary of our website and daily journal.  And, have I mentioned, it’s my birthday? LEO’s are proud, loyal and love a good show.  While they do have (a few) flaws, let’s leave those aside for […]

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Dance, Putti Dance!

Remember when a baby’s naked little bottom was a symbol of innocence—when two year olds would pose for a snap on a bearskin rug and cherubs could fly around Baroque rooms without raising questions or suspicions?  Today we keep our antennae attuned to any possible impropriety involving children (and that’s good).  Nevertheless, we might have […]

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Countdown to Father’s Day – part V

Manufacturers have always sought ways to keep their names in front of potential purchasers—especially large industrial purchasing agents.  Shown above, a cast iron letter rack from the 1880’s.  Made for “Diamond K”—which I think was a tool manufacturer (Kreauter?)—this letter holder would be left-behind by a traveling company salesman.  Notes, letters or photos could be placed […]

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Countdown to Father’s Day – part IV

Perhaps your dad’s an Anglophile.  How about an early Twentieth Century English brass letterknife?  A gallant knight stands at-the-read—exactly as he has since he was cast in brass in the 1910’s or 1920’s ($95). Please come into the shop to see him in person or call us for further information. More nice Father’s Day gift […]

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Countdown to Father’s Day – part I

With Father’s Day at the end of the week, I thought we’d share some of our newly-acquired, Dad-appropriate gift items over the next few days. Whether or not your father was (or is) a mailman, he’s sure to appreciate this (very cool) cast iron coin bank from the 1910’s or 1920’s.  The original red paint […]

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From Across the Sea

From afar off Japan comes this winsome little bear—made of cast iron and dressed in an antique brown finish.  He’d serve happily as a paperweight or loyally just standing-guard on your desk.  Please come into the shop to see him or call us for additional information.         See new merchandise first!  Follow […]

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Silver, Amethyst & Gold

Stylish bands of silver and gold surround this Italian amethyst glass covered bowl.  On the lid, a circle of stylized, hand-painted leaves congregate around the knob.  Perfect as a candy dish, a desk caddy or as a place to (carefully) leave one’s keys and coins.  Please come into the shop to see it or call […]

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Intelligent Correspondance

Owls have long symbolized Wisdom and Intelligence.  The Ancient Greeks associated them with the goddess of knowledge, Athena.  And because owls moved silently through the night, they were sometimes associated with mystery or “otherworldliness.”   Here a wise owl sits patiently on the pine branch of this American Art Nouveau letter rack, made in the […]

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Lyin’ in Winter

After (seemingly endless) months of campaigning, boasting and (yes, sometimes) lying, the candidates vying for the White House will get their first dose of “meaningful feedback” tomorrow as the Iowa Caucuses finally take place.  Why a small number of people in a handful of small towns in a couple of small states should have such […]

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Karel Palda

An exquisitely-cut Bohemian peach crystal bowl—probably the work of Czech glass master Karel Palda from the 1950’s ($275).  His workshop was founded in 1888 in the northern Czech village of Nový Bor (called Haida by the Germans—just a few miles away).  Palda is best known for his exquisite, sometimes over-the-top, Thirties Art Deco creations in enameled […]

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The World Goes ‘Round

On my first post-Christmas shopping trip, I found this 1934 school library globe by Replogle. While some borders—and many names—of countries have changed in the past 80 years, the placement of the continents has shifted only a little.  Come into the shop to see this handsome and practical piece, well-spun and well-burnished by little hands […]

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Notes From the Road – part IV

This week I’m sharing photos from my current buying trip—this time in Western Pennsylvania and the Midwest—like the schoolhouse globe, shown above, newly-acquired and very soon to be in-store.  While its vintage cartography is not up-to-the-minute, the characteristics of age and exposure result in an artifact of style, honesty and authority. Please come by the shop […]

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Brass is Beautiful

Although I don’t smoke (and I don’t like smoking), I love the accoutrement of the pernicious practice—ashtrays, smoking stands, humidors and tobacco jars like the one shown above. I’ve sold many tobacco jars over the years and I can safely say, this is one of the nicest I’ve ever acquired.  Made around 1910, the faceted, […]

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Stick with It

In the supposed “paperless world” of the modern age, one still can use the occasional help holding things together (now and then).  Let this simple and handsome Japanese tape dispenser assist.  Made of oak and offered in both dark and light finishes, the dispenser is heavy enough to stay-put while pulling a length of tape […]

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Pelicans—in Russia?

No—from the other Saint Petersburg!  Florida! A cast spelter Pelican opens his bill to hold your keys, coins, or cigarette ashes.  A delightful souvenir from 1960’s Florida—and sure to be a conversation piece in your office, kitchen or at the doorway.  Perfect for holding paperclips.  ($95).  Please come into the shop to see him or […]

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Back-to-School ? So Soon ?

When I was a kid, school re-convened after Labor Day, during the first week of September. Today, it seems, the kids are heading-back and we’ve barely left July!  Could today’s returning schoolboy be as excited as I used to be—considering he’s being sent back-to-task before the first sign of an Autumn chill? Perhaps an ultra-stylish […]

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Before Bookends

Before the Twentieth Century, bookends were not commonplace—in fact, rarely were they needed.  For before World War I, most “ordinary” families owned very few books—perhaps a Bible, a dictionary, some poetry, and the occasional cookery book.  Large collections of books were to be found only in institutional libraries or the homes of very wealthy individuals—people […]

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Ding!

On my buying trip last week, I assembled this small collection of desk bells—always a good-seller at LEO Design.  Made in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, they would have lived atop shop counters and hotel desks.  Mostly brass, some of them have cast iron bases ($125 – $165). Please come into the shop […]

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Notes From the Road – part IV

As I wend my way through New England, finding great, new items for the shop, I’ve put-together a collection of heavy, industrial tape dispensers, pictured above.  Designed and made in the Art Deco 1930’s, they are made of heavy cast iron and were usually found in factories, workshops or sales counters.  Because of their substantial weight, […]

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Earth Day

It was 1970.  War in Viet Nam was aflame, students were protesting on campuses across the country, and popular entertainers were writing songs like “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” And the environment was in shambles.  Air, water, and land were being poisoned with toxins—both intentionally and accidentally.  After a particularly upsetting oil spill off Santa Barbara, […]

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A Hand-Tooled Beauty

Perhaps it’s a bit too late to store your outgoing Christmas cards here—but this would be a beautiful place to keep the cards you’ve received!  This English Arts & Crafts letter rack, made of oak and decorated with hand-tooled brass panels, depicts a fire-breathing, winged dragon and a spray of stylized flowers and foliage.  A […]

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Notes From the Road – part XI

From Late Victorian England, a cast iron Aesthetic Movement money box, circa 1890. Behind it stands a much more modern West German vase, circa 1960.  What ties them together? Both pieces are inspired by earlier Asian design.  When interpreted (and modified) by Western artists, Asian design is called “Orientalism”—a movement very popular in the late […]

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Gilded, Enameled and Jewelled

Like the photo frames shown yesterday, these handsome desk accessories are made of finely-cast pewter, plated with 24 karat gold, enameled, and decorated with hand-set Swarovski crystals.  Made by jeweler Edgar Berebi in Providence, Rhode Island, this magnifying glass and letter knife will prove useful—while adding a measure of good taste to your office or […]

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“Functional Sculpture”

Though not “glassware” in the conventional sense, this newly-acquired piece is beautiful nevertheless.  Made in 1960’s Murano, Italy, it would make a substantial contribution to any domestic vignette—warm antique or cool modern.  While it functions as an ashtray, it also provides a sculptural anchor to any desk, credenza or coffee table. Please click on the […]

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World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day, a day dedicated to raising global awareness of (and encouraging action toward) protecting nature and planet Earth.  It was first celebrated in 1973 after being declared by the United Nations the previous year.  A different country hosts each year’s celebration and an annual theme is selected; this year’s host is […]

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Earth Day

In the winter of 1969, Denis Hayes gave a lecture at Columbia University, seeking to establish and promote the celebration of a new “holiday,” Earth Day.  A small group of local attendees took-up his challenge and agreed to organize and lead the New York City activities.  And what a good job they did!  On this […]

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Around the World

On this day in 1828, French author Jules Verne was born in Nantes, France.  The author of Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days, Verne is considered one of the fathers of science fiction writing.  He wrote prolifically of voyages, exploration, and […]

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French Brass

In turn-of-the-century Paris, electricity was rather new and inkwells were still de rigueur. And while drawn-ink is no longer mandatory, this antique French desk accessory will bring a touch of panaché to your Twenty First Century office. Come see it in-store or click on the photo above to learn more about it.

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United Nations Day

On this day in 1945, the United Nations Charter was established and this anniversary date declared “United Nations Day.”  It’s a day devoted to making known—worldwide—the aims and achievements of this great body and appreciating the importance of its mission. In 1971, the U.N. further resolved that United Nations Day be an international holiday and […]

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