JOURNAL — Metalwork RSS



Out, Out Brief Candle! (4/23/19)

On this day in 1616—precisely four hundred years ago—the world’s greatest poet and playwright died in his home town of Stratford-on-Avon, England.  While there is some mystery surrounding Shakespeare’s death, we do know (or think we know) a few things.  He had returned to Stratford (and his family) after 20 years of working in London.  His […]

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Grosgrain

When I first opened my store on Bleecker Street in 1995, I had little money to spend on luxuries.  And yet, I wanted to have gift-boxing which befitted the moniker "Handsome Gifts." Wrapping paper was out of the question—too expensive, too wasteful, too impractical and too time-consuming at the cash desk.  So I searched for alternatives and settled on a plain kraft gift box—embellished with a copper LEO Design "hot stamp" embossment (which did cost a little something)—tied-up with black grosgrain ribbon. Though not very jolly, this gift-boxing was easy, inexpensive, non-seasonal, non-denominational and (most importantly) distinctive—no one else was doing anything like it. Several years in, all's going well, and Marc Jacobs opens his first (of many!) stores on Bleecker...

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Welcome, April!

Welcome, April—and its birthstone, the Diamond! The phrase "A Diamond is Forever" comes from an ad campaign for DeBeers, which, until fairly recently, was undisputedly the world's largest diamond seller.  Perhaps "forever" is an overstatement; regardless, diamonds are an impressive work of Mother Nature. They are the hardest known natural substance, making them suitable for industrial uses (in addition to decorative applications). They are incredibly old: most natural diamonds were formed deep within the Earth (90 to 500 miles down) 1 - 3.5 billion years ago.  More recently (hundreds of millions of years ago), the Earth's volcanic activity moved some of them closer to the surface where they were discovered by man. Some diamonds were also formed by the heat...

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Crisply-Cast

Although quite traditional, the thinness of this frame—not to mention its crisp casting—gives it a timeless, even Modern appeal. It would suit a traditional or contemporary setting and will (rightly) keep the focus on your treasured photo. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.   Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).  We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com). Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248 Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on...

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A Little Something

Sometimes smaller is better. When you need "just a little something" with which to remember someone special, perhaps this little oval frame will do? Made of cast pewter (in New York City), it features a heavy, swirling rib which runs around the frame's perimeter. It's discreet and won't take up too much room on a busy work desk. See it at LEO Design by clicking on the photo above.   Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).  We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane...

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Time Flies - part III

Three hours comes fast when you're exhausted and have just gone to bed. But we were living on adrenaline and wanted to get to our house before the moving van did. We hit the road hours before sunrise. It was 7:00 am when the phone rang—we were crawling through Pittsburgh rush hour—and it was the house seller, telling us that the Verizon man was waiting for us. It turns-out, she hadn't moved-out when we thought she had—and we were suddenly relieved that we had not shown-up at three in the morning, terrifying her while trying to get into the house! Within an hour the moving vans (plural!) showed-up. It seems I had under-estimated the number of book boxes they would be...

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Time Flies - part II

In the last installment of this story, you found Bob, Benji, Lucky (The Hurricane Parakeet*) and me squeezed into a Pittsburgh-bound rent-a-car with our "carry-ons" (stuffed into every crevice of the vehicle, window-to-window). Naturally, it was rush hour—which means it took an hour to get down to (and through) the Holland Tunnel. The drive usually takes us about seven hours, eight hours when traveling with the pup, and we really wanted to make it in one go. The seller had just moved-out and we wanted to sleep in our new house! But we were exhausted—and faced an equally big day tomorrow. Alas, four hours in, we surrendered to Prudence (rather than Passion) and decided to break our journey en-route. Midnight,...

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Time Flies - part I

Two years ago today—has the time passed that quickly?—Roadway Movers rang the bell at my Chelsea apartment and started loading a mountain of boxes onto a large, double-parked truck. It was my last day as a bonafide New Yorker. Were it not for the whirlwind of packing "24 Years of Apartment" (immediately after packing "23 Years of Store"), I'm sure I would have been Desolation's Poster Boy. But I didn't have the time. I pushed my exhaustion into one of those expensive wardrobe cartons and assumed supervision of a pleasingly well-oiled moving crew. Within eight hours, all that remained was the four of us: Bob, Benji, Lucky and me—with Lucky's squawky chirps echoing off the now-bare apartment walls and floor. We lugged...

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Art Deco Style

Here's another handsome pewter photo frame, likewise hand-made in New York City. A quartet of four scalloped corner emblellishments punctuate the Art Deco style of this handsomely crafted frame.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).  We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com). Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248 Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"

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Greek Key

The Greek Key—sometimes called "meandering scrollwork"—is amongst my favorite decorative elements.  It's crisp, mathematical, architectural and oh so handsome. It's masculine yet elegant—a winning combination of traits!  This 2.5" x 3.5" frame is hand-cast in New York City. It is decorated with a border of precise Greek Key scrolling. Let it give a lift to a favorite photo of yours. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.   Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).  We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of...

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Hold My Horses!

I bought this wonderful bronze seahorse bottle opener in England—just outside of Oxford—some seven or eight years ago. For that entire period, I kept him tucked away in my desk drawer, so loathe was I to part with him. My hope was to have him recast in bronze (multiple times, of course) which I could sell as contemporary items. I even flirted with keeping him for myself, permanently. Well, six years passed and so did our precious time in Greenwich Village.  I packed him up for our move to Pittsburgh two years ago—and he sat deep within a box for those two additional years. He was finally unearthed last week and I decided that, if I were going to duplicate...

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A String of Pearls

Pearls are one of Mother Nature's perfect creations. Their shape, their sheen, their modest flawlessness—no other "gem" achieves such majesty so effortlessly. And, until the 20th Century, they were so costly that they remained solely in the possession of emperors and monarchs. With such characteristic merits, it is no surprise that pearls have been used as decorative motifs—in architecture, painting, sculpture and the decorative arts. One contemporary example is the cast pewter frame, shown above.  On it, a string of pearls—lined-up like soldiers—provides a delicate yet stately framework for your precious photo or paper memento. 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...

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Double Feature

This frame (and its on-line siblings) is a bit of a happy miracle. Beautifully designed, expertly crafted, it was made right here in the United States. And in New York City, no less! It's proof that quality manufacturing can survive in our otherwise service-oriented economy. It's a pleasure to support such local industry which does not attempt to plumb the lowest common denominator. As such, this frame is not trendy, it is not disposable, and it is not cheap. Instead, it is a one-time purchase which will last a century or more—physically and aesthetically. And it's reminiscent of a time when Americans were willing to pay more for something that would last a good, long time. Please click on the photo...

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Italian Time

Italy is my favorite travel destination—and I easily could spend every remaining vacation of my life exploring (and absorbing) a new Italian village or city. So I am well aware that Italy shines brightly in certain respects (style, atmosphere, attitude, design) and is (ummm...) less highly-regarded in other areas (precision timing, prompt shipping). I keep this in mind while considering this handsome and stylish pewter sandglass. While the sand-cast metal is beautifully designed and crafted, it is less-effective as a precision timepiece: sometimes it hits the thirty minute mark, sometimes it will add or subtract a minute (or two, or less) to that timing objective. Che importa?  Who cares? In keeping with Italy's age-old experience with time, you'll find a...

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Aluxes

Aluxes are mythical Mayan "elves"—not unlike Irish Leprechauns or Hawaiian Menehune. Though usually invisible—or, at least, unseen—they can take the form of knee-high dwarves. And they are known to be mischievous. But their mischief-making does not carry an evil intent; instead, they will sometimes create chaos while attempting to protect their territory. In recent years, while a bridge was being built in Mexico, it kept collapsing, inexplicably. Local residents of Mayan ancestry explained that the builders had failed to ask permission of the little aluxes before commencing work. The engineers rectified the situation by creating a little house under the bridge—so that the aluxes could continue to live in the area, undisturbed. The small house can still be seen (under...

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Age Old Sand-Casting

This handsome old-world beaker was made in contemporary Italy in the age-old sand-cast method. Used since mankind first started casting metals (in the Bronze Age), sand-casting remains a low-tech and wonderful technique for creating rustic and satisfyingly naive metal objects. First, an "original" (that is, the item to be duplicated) is pushed into a tray of sticky sand. Once lifted out, a depression is left in the sand—into which molten metal (in this case, pewter) is poured.  Once the cast piece has cooled and solidified, the piece is taken out, chased (that is, cleaned of burrs and other major irregularities), and polished. Although an accurate duplicate is created, this "unsophisticated" method allows for plenty of idiosyncrasies and the hand-crafted sensibility of...

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Love Notes

A love note for your Valentine? Sometime's the sweetest surprise is that unexpected token, tucked-away in a purse or wallet. And with this handsome note holder, you'll always be ready to write. The polished pewter piece was designed by Danish Modernist artist Erik Magnussen and made by Royal Selangor. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. Happy Valentine's Day!   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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Aged to Perfection

Given time and the right environmental conditions, all metals will "patinate" (that is, "tarnish"). Some metals, like silver, tarnish very quickly. Others, like copper, take decades to develop a rich, dark patina. Pewter needs several years (and dry conditions) to develop a dark, rich grey finish like the French Art Nouveau vase, shown above. Brass falls on the middle of the "tarnish continuum." And some metals, like bronze, are often purposely patinated at the time of manufacture to give them a certain look—for example, antique gold, chocolate brown or verdigris green. In the world of decorative arts, the condition of a metal's finish can often make-or-break the value of an item. Although tastes vary, the general rule is: the longer...

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Architects Attempt Sculpture

Though clearly Art Deco—in period and style—these 1930's bookends foreshadow the "Brutalist" aesthetic to come two decades later. Brutalism was a design ethic which swept worldwide architecture in the third-quarter of the Twentieth Century. Coming on the heels of the Second World War, it sought to overturn the (so-called) "frivolous" aesthetic of previous human generations, and, perhaps, to shock the world with its defiant rejection of grace. Brutalism is known for its brazen angularity and a lack of any concern for "fitting-in" to the existing community of buildings. Though it is often described as the expression of "function over form," it is more often perceived as an insolent disregard for traditional conventions of beauty. The new, post-War generation of designers...

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In a Peddler's Wake

In days of yore, well before Amazon, a traveling salesman would stop by your office to sell you screws, springs or hosing—or whatever your industry required. And he would usually leave a little something behind; something handsome and useful and likely to remind you to place another order. This spring-form letter holder and pen rest was made of cast iron around 1910. The advertiser's name, "K Diamond" prominently (though tastefully) featured on each side.  Over the past 24 years, I have found three of these—one in a far away Shanghai flea market! 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,...

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The Temple of Concordia

The Tempio della Concordia in Agrigento, Sicily, is the best preserved Doric Order temple in the world (alongside the Parthenon in Athens). It was built around 440-430 BC when the pre-Italian island was an important part of the Greek world. It was later named after the Roman goddess of harmony. It is surrounded by 20 foot tall fluted columns—six along each short side and 13 along each long side—topped, naturally, with Doric capitals. Each column tapers subtly near the top and swells gently in the middle which gives the column a dynamic tension—as though the column were straining to bear the weight of the roof. The temple was converted to a Christian Basilica (of Saints Peter & Paul) in the...

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Picture This

We've just added a number of handsome pewter frames to our on-line shop.  And there are many more to be shot in the weeks to come.  Shown above, just one example: an 8" x 10" cast pewter frame with a crisp "rope" design. Learn more about it (and its siblings) by clicking on the photo above.   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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Kung Hei Fat Choi!

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2019 is The Year of the Pig.  It's the final (twelfth) character of the cycle—since the Pig was the last guest to show-up when summoned by the Jade Emperor. People born in the year of the pig are down-to-Earth, focussed on their work and tenacious about sticking to their goals. Because of a disciplined work ethic, they are likely to become financially secure (in time), even if born to a poor family. They don't stand out in a crowd and will never be accused of being "all talk, no action."  Pigs also tend to be gentle and quiet. Their patience and desire to be helpful makes them great teachers or coaches. Though pigs are careful...

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Ten Days to Go...

A gentle reminder . . . Saint Valentine's Day is less than a week and a half away!. And, since time is our most precious commodity, perhaps this Italian sand-cast pewter sandglass will be a reminder of time's fleeting nature. Spend your precious time with the one(s) you love. 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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The Horse Tamers

In the Art Deco period, "heroic" human figures—like this "Trojan Horseman"—would be used as decorative elements in the architecture of the day. Usually, the sculpture was designed to represent some intangible element of a robust society: commerce, labor, agriculture. A walk through central Washington, DC will present many such examples—on Thirties buildings which manage and guide the various important agencies for the nation. The theme of "Horse Tamers" in artwork is one that goes back to Rome with the monumental sculptures of Castor & Pollux (and their horses) standing near the Baths of Constantine on Quirinal Hill. A pair of sculpted Horse Tamers by Baron Peter Clodt von Jurgensburg (plus two more by a different artist) grace the Anichkov Bridge...

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Amethysts for February

Welcome to February and its birthstone, the amethyst. Although these sterling silver Art Deco cufflinks do not bear the actual gemstone, they are dressed in a handsome, amethyst colored enamel—and would make a lovely gift for any February birthday.  Learn more about them by clicking on the photo above. Up until the Nineteenth Century, amethysts were very precious; they were considered one of the rare (and expensive) "Cardinal Gemstones"—alongside rubies, diamonds, sapphires and emeralds.  At the time, they were only to be found in Austria and Russia (where the most beautiful, deep-purple amethysts were found). Medieval monarchs—especially in England—adorned themselves with the royal amethyst. Even today, Anglican bishops wear an amethyst in their episcopal rings. This is due to the...

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Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan's most famous buildings and a designated National Treasure.  Principally built between 1593 and 1594, it soon became the home of the "Matsumoto Domain" during the Tokugawa Shogunate of the Edo Period (1603-1868).  It is within the Nagano Prefecture, some 40 miles south of Nagano.  Built of wood, atop a stone base, Matsumoto Castle is unusual in that it was not sited upon a hilltop or on an island. Instead, it is a "flatland" castle, protected by a wide man-made moat (which, in turn, is surrounded by cherry trees). The six story building is sometimes called "Crow Castle" due to its black coloration and gracefully upswept eves. These cufflinks, probably Japanese, are silver decorated with striking...

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Japanese Bamboo

Can you hear the wind passing through the bamboo—a satisfying rustle of leaves overhead? These sterling silver Art Deco cufflinks, made in the 1930's, are probably American, not Japanese. Nevertheless, they capture a popular theme during the 1930's, "the exotic Far East." Actually, it was a time when most Americans couldn't imagine making such a long trip—nor could they afford it. But a small, alluring indulgence, like these cufflinks, might afford its wearer a  moment of romantic glamour, a modest experience of enjoying the larger world. 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...

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Erik Magnussen - part II

Here's another offering, designed by Danish Modernist artist Erik Magnussen (1940-2014). A covered sugar bowl and beaker-form creamer are cast in pewter and polished to a high shine by Royal Selangor (founded 1885).  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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Erik Magnussen - part I

  Danish artist, Erik Magnussen (1940-2014), is amongst Denmark's preeminent Modernist designers. Trained as a ceramicist, one of his earliest jobs was working for Bing & Grøndahl. Later, he was hired to design items—furniture, lighting, hardware, tabletop wares—for quality manufacturers and retailers around the world. His works are exhibited in museums worldwide. The salt and pepper shakers, shown above, were designed by Magnussen for Royal Selangor (founded 1885). They are cast in pewter and polished to a high shine.  Please click up 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...

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Royal Mail

Store your mail in style.  This English Arts & Crafts oak letter holder is clad with hand-tooled brass plates—which show stylized botanicals and a snarling, reticulated dragon.  At top, a glass amethyst "turtleback" cabochon punctuates the entire design.  Suitable sitting on a desk or hanging on the wall from its brass hook.  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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Twinkle, Twinkle!

This silver-plated amphibian, when wound, will play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." The English lullaby, based on an 1806 poem, is set to the popular French children's song "Ah! Vous dirai-je, maman" ("Shall I tell you, Mother" - 1761). The tune became even more popular when a 25 year old Mozart composed twelve variations on the theme. Although the music box, above, is meant as a child's gift, it has proved just as popular with adults—due to it's realistic, warty sculpting and the irresistible childhood tune. 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...

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Nouveau German

Like most regional Art Nouveau movements, the German Jugendstil used naturalistic elements as decorative motifs.  Here a copper tray is embossed with a pattern of leaves, berries and whiplash-form vines. Perhaps the berries were meant to echo the glasses of berry wine, possibly carried on the tray. It is finished with brass handles and ball feet.  It was made by Württembergische Mettalwarenfabrik, also known as WMF, during the 1910's. 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...

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Art & War

War has been described as hours of crushing tedium, punctuated with moments of fierce and life-altering intensity. For this reason, soldiers and sailors have long found ways to pass the time—perhaps handcrafting a simple gift for a sweetheart left back home. And necessity dictates using the supplies at hand, in this case a bronze artillery shell casing. The metal shell has been crafted into an ashtray, from which a stag leaps from the pediment at center.  It was made at some time during World War Two—by an unknown artisan, for an unknown loved one. It's a bit of naive folk art, combined with the history and pathos of a person at war. Please click on the photo above to learn more about...

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Peterborough Cathedral

Some 85 miles north of London stands Peterborough Cathedral, one of the great churches of Britain.  Principally built between 1118 and 1237, this English Gothic masterpiece stands on the site of an earlier church, founded in 655. Saints Peter, Paul and Andrew look down from the three central gables, appropriate as the cathedral's official name is the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew. The church was originally a Catholic house of worship. When Henry VIII "dissolved the monasteries"—thus stripping the churches of their precious objects and banning Catholic worship—it was converted to an Anglican cathedral. But Henry's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, had already been buried in the church—and remains there to this day. Later, the Scottish...

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Style and Substance - part III

Another pair of English sterling silver cufflinks, finished with a handsome treatment of aqua and sapphire blue enameling. They're very stylish, exhibiting classic Art Deco style. Their lack of any wear and tear, however, bring their age into question.  But they were nice—and priced right—so I bought them. 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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Style and Substance - part II

Such a fresh color combination: pistachio and white! And the color makes this pair of Art Deco cufflinks pop! Concentric ovals of guilloché work radiate outwards, adding an additional level of finesse to this handsome pair of cufflinks, made in the 1930's.  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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Style and Substance - part I

If I could only buy one type of jewelry for the rest of my life, it would be Art Deco enameled silver cufflinks. The pair above, tick this specific box.  I am not, however, certain of their age.  They are beautifully designed, well-made, and have very little wear and tear.  It is this final factor which throws their age into question.  Obviously, I bought them anyway—a testimony to their handsome and stylish design and condition.  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...

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Shine On

From The Land of the Rising Sun comes this exquisite Crescent Moon.  A heavy piece of solid brass is cut and hand-finished into the elegant bottle opener shown here. While it is absolutely functional, it is also handsome enough to keep out on your coffee table or bar cart.  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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Barley Sheaves

For centuries, before modern harvesting equipment was developed, grain products were "reaped" by hand.  A field of grain (like barley, rye or wheat) was harvested by a team of workers.  With the harvesters moving in a clockwise circle (and starting on the edge of the field), one person used a sickle or scythe to cut the grain stalks.  "Following" laborers would then gather a bunch of these stalks into "sheaves"—which they would tie-up with a few of those same stalks.  The team would move around the perimeter of the field, getting closer to the center with every pass. Often, several sheaves would then be stacked together, leaning inwards, into a "stook." Why sheaves?  By cutting the stalks and binding them...

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Premium Premiums

Those were the Good Ol' Days!  When promotional giveaways were made of bronze and cast iron. Like the advertising paperweight, shown above.  The nameplate and knob are bronze, mounted upon a decorative cast iron base. It will add a touch of Turn-of-the-Century style to your desk or office. 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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Concerning Weight

It's a new year and time for a (not so) new resolution—concerning weight. But enough about that! This set of seven Edwardian English brass scale weights spans the range of 1/4 ounce to one pound. They would have been used in an English shop, on a balance, to weigh goods for sale. Today, they could be used as paperweights, "Modernist" sculpture or as "Executive Playthings."  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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Simple Beauty

While Arts & Crafts artisans did appreciate beautiful materials, fine and expensive supplies were never a prerequisite.  Part of the Arts & Crafts philosophy was to let handsomely unadorned materials shine in their own simple ways.  Wood grains, hammered metals and functional joinery often became the most important embellishments of otherwise simple pieces.  The glazed ceramic cabochon, shown here, is just such an example.  Though set into a sterling silver mount, most of this brooch's appeal lies in the lovely and mysterious glazing upon the cabochon—which is, of course, the handwork of a talented craftsman.  It was made around 1910 and would look wonderful on the heavy winter lapel of a man or woman's winter coat.  Please click on the photo...

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Boxing Day

In Edwardian England (where and when this box was made), wealthy and middle class families would employ servants—who were expected to serve their masters on Christmas Day. Their day off was on the 26th, known as Boxing Day, the day on which servants would receive gifts from their employers. Traditionally, even the tradesmen who served the family would be given "boxes" with a gratuity or other gift within.  Today, the occasion is still observed as a "bank holiday" in England and other Commonwealth countries—though very few families still employ live-in servants. The brass stamp box, shown here, was made around 1905.  Besides stamps, it is a cozy spot to hold a few rings, clips or flat cufflinks.  Please click on the photo...

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Gifts for Smart People - part VII

Let's end our little parade of bookends in feline style: with this pair of antique cast iron bookends from the Twenties. A pair of proud lions survey their domain from atop this craggy mountaintop. Beautifully modeled, nicely cast and finished with an (aged) copper wash, they would make a handsome addition to any office, den or bookshelf—and make any good LEO happy.  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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Gifts for Smart People - part VI

Which pair of bookends could be more-appropriate for a smart person than those called "The Thinker"? Rodin first created "Le Penseur" in 1880 as part of a larger sculpted grouping called "The Gates of Hell," based on Dante's The Divine Comedy. The first large stand-alone "Thinker" was cast in 1904 and the public was intrigued by a work which perfectly suited the times. Psychology increasingly was viewed as a legitimate science and the public was fascinated with the human mind and the theories of Sigmund Freud.  "The Thinker" became an icon of the Turn-of-the-Century zeitgeist. The bookends shown above were made in the 1920's—when "The Thinker" was still a relatively recent novelty.  First, the bookend maker needed to sculpt an artful and accurate model...

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Gifts for Smart People - part V

The Boston Terrier was actually first "created" in Liverpool, England.  It was a terrible time for dogs and other animals—the mid Nineteenth Century—as "bloodsports" were a popular pastime, pitting dogs against other animals (including dogs) in fights-to-the-death. Attempting to create a novel "pit dog," a Bulldog was crossed with an English White Terrier (now extinct).  This dog, named "Judge," was purchased by a Bostonian who brought him back to the States and bred him to develop and establish the breed.  Today the breed is known for its curious and sprightly nature, its sharp "tuxedo" coat and its gentlemanly behavior. These bookends, from the 1920's, were made when Boston Terriers were even more popular than they are today.  In the Teens,...

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Gifts for Smart People - part IV

I like to visit beautiful cemeteries—especially those with strong Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century monuments.  Highgate in London, Père Lachaise in Paris.  A quiet afternoon here is an afternoon well-spent. Cemeteries are quiet, verdant, and usually well-appointed with beautiful sculpture and architecture. So, when I found myself with a little extra time in Budapest, I made my way to the Kerepesi Cemetery—at the end of the Metro line, in what was once "just outside" of the old city.  Here I spent a wonderful couple of hours, meandering amongst the graves and admiring the handsome sculpture-rich monuments erected by loving survivors. The bronze-clad bookends above were modeled by sculptor Julio Kilenyi in the 1910's or 1920's.  Kilenyi was born in Arad...

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Gifts for Smart People - part III

I like people who love dogs. And people who love books. That said, these bookends really hit the mark! They were made of cast iron and finished with a copper wash in the 1920's or 1930's—a time when bulldogs were amongst the most popular of pet dog breeds. Though the breed diminished in popularity over the ensuing decades, bulldogs did have one high-profile moment during World War Two when they became forever linked with the resolve, tenacity and (well) doggedness of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about them. More handsome bookends tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line...

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Gifts for Smart People - part II

Does anyone dislike Gothic architecture? To me, the Gothic (and Gothic Revival) marks the high-water mark of human architectural achievement.  And though you may not live in a Gothic Castle (or Cathedral), you could have a handsome (and heavy) pair of Gothic Arch bookends.  Made by Bradley & Hubbard (Meriden, CT) in the 1920's or 1930's, these bookends will bring a handsome touch of Gothic architectural interest to your (non-Gothic) home or office. They would also make a great gift for a smart person in your life.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about them. More handsome bookends tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please...

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Gifts for Smart People - part I

Owls have long represented Wisdom—since the days of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Athens's namesake. More recently, bookends have become the perfect gift for smart people. Why?  Well, first of all, one only needs bookends if one has books.  And one only has books if one loves wisdom, learning and knowledge.  Add to this the fact that a handsome pair of bookends are practical and aesthetically pleasing—like the pair of bronze-clad bookends, shown above. Made in the 1920's, these nicely-modeled bookends were electroplated in bronze, then patinated and punctuated with hand-painting.  They'll bring style—and a certain sense of erudition—to your desk, bookshelf or office.  Learn more about them by clicking on the photo above. More handsome bookends tomorrow.   LEO...

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Quietly Reflecting

This small but heavy sculpture is a remarkable bit of metalwork handcraft.  Made in Japan, a heavy block of solid brass is shaped into this sensuous feline form and polished to a bright finish.  He'd be happy to hold your paperwork or just sit with you at the desk—quietly reflecting while quietly reflecting.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about him.   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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O Solo Mio...

This handsome pair of Art Deco bookends, made in the 1920's, portray a pensive cellist—tortured, talented, tenacious.  Artfully sculpted and clad in electroplated bronze, they still retain much of their original polychrome painting.  A wonderful gift for a cellist, musician or music-lover.  Learn more about them by clicking on the photo above.   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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Hail, Billiken!

Florence Pretz of Kansas City, Missouri, was an art teacher and illustrator.  She claims that the gnome-like character "Billiken" came to her in a dream—and by 1908, Pretz had secured a design patent on her creation, "the god of things as they ought to be."  She marketed the little guy as a good luck token—informing the public that to give one was lucky, but to receive one was even more lucky.  Today, Billiken stands as the mascot of the Jesuit college Saint Louis University (and its affiliated high school).  This little bank was made in the 1910's or 1920's. Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed....

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Little Journeys

Elbert Hubbard, founder of the Roycroft community in East Aurora, New York, modeled his campus on the progressive—and reformist—arts colonies in turn-of-the-century England. Besides metal working, furniture making and lamp crafting, the printing of books, cards and posters was needed to bring education and culture to the eager minds of the day. Hubbard created his "Little Journeys" series: a monthly subscription of books which detailed the lives of the artistic, important and influential.  Each year, a new topic would be introduced, whether musicians, orators, scientists or men of letters. The bookends above, made by Roycroft, were intended to hold up one's collection of Little Journeys booklets.  You will learn more about them by clicking on the photo above.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village...

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A Key Twist

A handy stocking-stuffer, this clever little keying was crafted of machined brass in Brooklyn, NY.  The twisting form is capped with a screw-in ending—which makes adding (or subtracting) keys a snap.  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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Welcome December!

Welcome, December, and your birthstone, the Turquoise. The sublime blue-green stone has been mined and used decoratively for thousands of years although the modern(ish) name “Turquoise” dates back only to the 1600’s—from the French word “Turques” (after the “Turks” who first brought the stone to Europe from Persia).  Some of the oldest turquoise mining occurred in Persia […]

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When Art & Commerce Collide

American sculptor James Earle Frasier (1876-1953) was known for his handsome sculpture—including Native American themes and wild animals of the West.  He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago as well as the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.  He was hired to re-design the Nickel, part of an on-going effort to "beautify" American currency.  Despite objections from coin-operated vending machine owners (who thought the coin was too easy to imitate with "slugs"), Frasier's "Indian Head" or "Buffalo Nickel" was minted starting in 1913.  Alas, the design proved difficult to "strike" crisply—and the bas relief design was prone to excessive wear from circulation.  In 1938, after the 25 year circulation requirement was met, the coin was replaced by the Jefferson nickel. The cufflinks...

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Old Technology, New Uses

Bring a touch of elegant handcraft to your busy desk—with this English Arts & Crafts pen tray, made around 1900. Hand-tooled wild irises scroll amidst stylized botanical effects on this brass repoussé piece.  Pen trays, once necessary to keep a desk clean and tidy, are now perfect places to keep clips, business cards or even pens.  At home antique pen trays are a handsome solution for one's jewelry at bedside or keys near the door.  Click on the photo above to learn more about this stylish piece.   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:...

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Brass Beauty

Your trusty steed is saddled-up and at-the-ready!  Ready to serve you loyally, holding your letters, cards or bills.  He's made of cast brass and was made in England in the 1920's or 1920's.  A great gift for a horse lover or perfect at home to corral your loose bits of paper.  Click on the photo above to learn more about him.   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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Simple Quality

Want to make your morning just a little easier?  Consider this simply elegant Victorian English brass shoehorn. While one may continue to jam his fingers between shoe and heel, why not slide-in in style?  You'll make it out the door with a little extra time, a little less struggle, and the satisfaction of using just the right tool for a job well done.  Click on the photo above to learn more about this quality piece.   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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Aged to Perfection

Some things don't get better with modernity.  Try to find a contemporary letter rack for your new office's desk and you're likely to end-up with a cheap (looking) plastic contraption.  Functional, yes.  But oh-so-lacking in human handcraft or style.  This piece, made in Jugendstil Germany, is assembled (with rivets!) of hand-hammered coper—each piece hand-scalloped with a touch of the Gothic.  It's not very big, but it will easily hold small notepads, a few handy tools, or (naturally) envelopes or letters.  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...

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Swords into Ploughshares

“Trench Art” was a form of folk art practiced by soldiers (or, sometimes, sailors) during World Wars I & II.  Men on the front line would sometimes have long stretches of boredom, punctuated by sudden bursts of excruciating action. The artistically-inclined amongst them might spend their quiet hours crafting items (such as the vase, above) […]

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The Song of Hiawatha

On 10 November 1855, the long-form poem “Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was published.  It proved popular, selling 50,000 copies within the next two years. While the poem is considered a masterpiece of American Romantic literature, it is not necessarily an accurate, historical rendering of Native American people and their lives. Nevertheless, the […]

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Island Maiden

A winsome dancer sways to the music on this pair of cufflinks made of Honolulu Rapid Transit tokens, first minted in the 1950's.  Sterling silver mountings complete the assembly. 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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Thomas Nast and his Elephant

Thomas Nast was the popular and powerful cartoonist, lecturer, and political thinker of the American 19th century.  He did much of his work for Harper’s Weekly in New York City. On this day in 1874, Nast introduced the Elephant as the symbol for the Republican party—a mascot which survives to this day. Nast has been […]

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A King is Discovered

On this day in 1922,  British archeologist Howard Carter uncovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun.  Not only did this discovery set the scientific, historical, and archeological worlds ablaze, but it sparked a revival of “Egyptian Mania” in the decorative arts. “King Tut” took the throne at the age of 9 or 10 and held it […]

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Bronze Refinement

Before the advent of cartridge ink pens (or ball point pens), writing was a messy ordeal. Writers greeted you with blackened fingers and newspaper writers were called "Ink-Stained Wretches."  What to do if you were an educated gentleman?  You wanted to (or needed to) write—but you preferred to maintain a gentlemanly nattiness.  (Not to mention preserve your expensive leather-topped desk).  Enter the pen tray!   Here one could keep one or more inky pens—close-at-hand but securely cradled.   This footed pen tray, made in late Nineteenth Century France, is crafted of cast bronze and decorated with sensuous botanical scrollwork and regimented triangular edging. And, if inky messes are no-longer a common occurrence on your desk, these pen trays are perfect holding...

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French Classic

Here' another handsome piece by French knife-maker Laguiole.  The hand-forged stainless steel knife is clad in white cow horn (which has the look of ivory) and is capped with polished stainless steel bolsters.  Of course, the knife is finished with the classic hand-chiseled bee (and spine) and it displays the stainless pins which form a stylized cross on one side.  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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James B. Longacre, Artist

James Barton Longacre was born in 1794 in Delaware County, Eastern Pennsylvania.  His mother died when he was young and he ran away to Philadelphia at the age of 12—unable to abide his new stepmother.  He was taken-in by the family of a Philly bookseller and given an apprenticeship working in the bookshop.  But young James displayed a talent for portraiture so the shopkeeper released him of his apprenticeship which allowed him to work for an engraver. In a recess appointment by U.S. President John Tyler, Longacre was appointed Chief Engraver for the Philadelphia Mint in 1844, a position he held until his death in 1869.  He was a prolific designer of many coins, including the iconic "Indian Head" penny (produced from...

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Top of the Liszt

On this day in 1811, musical genius Ferencz Liszt was born in the Hungarian village of Doborjan—at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and today a part of modern Austria.  Ferencz (called "Franz" in English) was attentive to his musician father's practicing.  By seven, he was beginning piano lessons, by eight he was crafting simple compositions, and by nine he was performing concerts.  After hearing the prodigy play, a group of wealthy music patrons agreed to finance Franz's musical education in Vienna—the capital city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Liszt spent the rest of his boyhood studying, composing and touring.  When his father died in 1827, the 16 year old Franz quit touring, moved with his family to Paris, and began...

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The Battle of Trafalgar

On this day in 1805, England savored one its greatest military wins in history—defeating the combined navies of France and Spain.  In the Battle of Trafalgar, led on the British side by Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, the French and Spanish lost 22 ships;  England lost none. The win was so decisive, it changed the trajectory […]

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"Vin, S'il Vous Plaît."

Laguiole is a village of some 1,200 in South-Central France, known for its distinctive cheese and excellent knives.  The first Laguiole knife was crafted in 1829 and became popular with farmers and shepherds.  In fact, the decorative "pins" in the body of the knife are inserted in the form of a cross—and Catholic shepherds (tending their sheep, far from home or church) used to stick their knife blades upright, into the earth, to form a makeshift prayer altar. Alas, Laguiole was not disciplined about trademarking or protecting its esteemed name.  As a result, poor-quality knockoffs (usually from Asia) have flooded the market under the Laguiole name.  Rest assured, we only sell the best Laguiole products, made in Laguiole, France. The sommelier, shown...

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Call Me Ishmael . . .

“Call me Ishmael,”  is perhaps the most famous opening line of any American Novel yet written.  On this day in 1851, The Whale, by Herman Melville, was published by Richard Bentley in London.  A few weeks later, it was published in New York under the name Moby Dick; or, The Whale. Although it was met with lukewarm […]

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One's Heart on a Sleeve

If you've left your heart in The City by the Bay, perhaps this handsome pair of cufflinks will ease the ache.  Vintage San Francisco transit tokens—first minted in 1945—are set in sterling silver mounts.  You can celebrate that wonderful city—and look great doing it. 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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And a Literary Genius, Too

And speaking of artistic geniuses, let’s not forget “The Bard,” William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616).  Perhaps the world’s greatest playwright—of all time—his plays have influenced many other written works, have been adapted into musicals and operas, and have made a profound contribution to the spoken English language. The bookends above, made by Bradley & Hubbard […]

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Greatest. Artist. Ever.

The World is full of wonderful art—of varying (and disparate) eras, materials and aesthetics.  How can one possibly identify an all time favorite artist—especially if he loves so much art?  Well, for me it's easy.  My all-time favorite artist jumps right out: Michelangelo Buonarotti of Renaissance Florence.  He was a true Artistic Genius. Michelangelo lived in a place and era of artistic upheaval, dominated by artistic titans.  And Michelangelo was the best!  He painted (the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel), he sculpted (David, for starters) and he designed landmarks (like the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica).  Popes and princes sought Michelangelo's labors—perhaps realizing that his divine artistry may provide them with a bit of earthly eternity. The bronze-clad bookends, shown above, are modeled after...

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International Day of Older Persons

Every senior was once young—and, since then, has experienced a lifetime of lessons and made countless contributions.  In 1990, the United Nations declared 1 October as International Day of Older Persons, the day when we salute our elderly and recognize the special challenges they face.  Sadly, elder abuse is all too common.  So is loneliness, […]

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Talk Like a Pirate!

Two friends, Mark Summers and John Bauer, were playing a friendly game of racquetball. “Ahrrrrrr!” one cried as the ball hit him.  And, thus, was born “International Talk Like a Pirate Day!”  In truth, the founding incident took place on 6 June 1995—commemorated as D-Day—but out of respect for that historical milestone, they decided to […]

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What To Do?

What to do?  What to do?  What to do?  These hand-crafted cast pewter tokens will help you make executive decisions with ease—whether you should "Risk It" or "Play It Safe."  Made in California and sold in sets of four.  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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Autumn Shades - part V

Warm brass, warm heart.  This little hand-sculpted, cast pewter heart is finished with a brassy wash and fitted with a keyring.  Useful, handsome and sentimental. 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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Autumn Shades - part III

When Autumn arrives, and the days shorten, we turn-up our lamps and light the candles and fireplaces.  What would look better than flickering light glancing off the warm, polished surface of this English Arts & Crafts copper tray?  A radiant foliate design is hand-tooled upon the hand-beaten surface of the tray—perfect whether presenting warm mushroom tartlets or eight to ten mugs of hot mulled wine.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.  More Autumn inspiration tomorrow.   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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Key to a Heart

Wonderfully tactile, this pewter heart makes a lovely keyring—and a handsome, sentimental gift.  It comes in both the original pewter (shown) and a brassy finish.  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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Seeing the Big Picture

Aging eyes still appreciate beauty—but sometimes they just need a little extra help!  This contemporary magnifying glass packs a nice powerful punch.  It is framed in a bronze-finished brass and would make a handsome (and discreet) addition to any desk, kitchen drawer or nightstand.  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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“Extra! Extra!”

Today is National Paperboys’ Day.  On this day in 1833, ten year old Barney Flaherty was hired to deliver the New York Sun.  Little Barney—responding to a classified ad seeking “a number of steady men”—was the first of countless boys who made money delivering newspapers door-to-door or on the streets.  Despite the romanticized, iconic image […]

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In Recognition of Labor

Today let us salute—and thank—all those who contribute to our country by the sweat of their brows and the brawn of their biceps.  For all those strong legs, straight backs, and enduring wills, let’s be grateful. The iron man, depicted on the cast iron bookends above, represents the hundreds of thousands of iron mill workers […]

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The Tail End of Summer's Dog Days

The Summer doldrums—sometimes called the Dog Days—will soon be behind us.  Sweaters will come-out and the school bell will ring.  This pair of bronze bookends capture a finely-cast terrier—alert and tense with energy.  He'll happily round-up and supervise your book collection on desk, bookshelf or credenza.  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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Rectory Chic

Do you ever feel like exiting the rat race?  Leaving the city?  Joining a nice, simple, cloistered monastery? Perhaps that fleeting feeling is best contemplated during less-stressful moments. In the meantime, a touch of Rectory Chic might give you just enough of a momentary retreat to get you through the rest of the day.  Made in the […]

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Happy Birthday, George!

On 12 August 1762, King George IV of England was born.  His father (George III), with whom he had a terrible relationship, forced him to marry his cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, whom he hated as much as his father.  They had one child, Charlotte, after which he kept his wife as far away from himself as possible.  He didn’t even allow her to attend his eventual coronation! Instead, he took comfort in the arms of other women, most notoriously, Mrs.

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Can a Cloud Have a Pewter Lining?

How can it be?  I dislike smoking—and, yet, I love smoking accessories.  And this Italian cast pewter "smoking box" is a perfect illustration.  With a hinged lid and divots to hold cigarettes or a cigar, it is a handsome solution to an otherwise messy problem.  And if you do not smoke, it will hold your cufflinks, rings or collar stays with efficiency and style. 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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Lots of LEOs - XVI

The muscular energy of this cast bronze lioness belies her small size and simplicity of design.  And yet, the sculptor has captured—with great economy—the powerful control of this athletic huntress.  Learn more about her by clicking on the photo above. Another LEO tomorrow.   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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Lots of LEOs - XV

The only thing better than a LEO is—two LEOs!  This pair of bookends, made by Bradley & Hubbard (Meriden, CT) in the 1930's, are crafted of cast iron and finished with a golden wash.  They are inspired by the Nineteenth Century work of French anamalier Antoine-Louis Barye.  Because they are "mirrored"—that is, one faces left while the other faces right—two moulds were required (and twice as much work).  It also means that both of your lions will be facing forward on your bookshelf.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about them.  Another LEO tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which...

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Lots of LEOs - XIV

Another domestic lioness—house trained, yes, but still a lion at heart!  Sculpted of cast brass and finished with a verdigris bronze patina, the sculptor has captured beautifully the intelligence, intensity and coiled energy of a cat ready-to-spring. She'll faithfully guard your coffee table, occupy your windowsill, or even hold open a door for you.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about her. Another LEO tomorrow.   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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Lots of LEOs - XIII

Don't let this LEO's modest size (and price) obscure his style and presence He's full of himself, indeed.  Legs astride, he conveys a bold confidence—and will guard your desk or bookshelf zealously.  He's made of cast bronze in the American MidWest.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about him.  Another LEO tomorrow.   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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Lots of LEOs - XII

This cast iron lion is a bank and was made around 1900.  He can be opened with a screwdriver and still has traces of the original paint which dressed him.  Perhaps a young LEO can practice his saving skills with this handsome and useful gift.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about him. Another LEO tomorrow.   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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Lots of LEOs - XI

Not every LEO lives in the savannah.  These fierce little lions prowl a British backyard.  Crafted in England in the 1930's, these cast brass bookends have an "illustrated storybook" sensibility— and were designed and made at a time when children's books did not shy from the spooky, the dark or the moral-laden.  Learn more about them by clicking on the photo above. Another LEO tomorrow.   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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Lots of LEOs - X

Today we enter August and—as suggested above—the sun remains high in LEO’s segment of the heavens.  The regal bronze-clad lion sculpture, shown above, is modeled after the famous walking lion by French anamalier Antoine-Louis Barye (1796-1875).  It is the jewel in the crown of our collection of handsome lions, now in-store.  Perhaps it would make a nice gift for your favorite LEO?

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Lots of LEOs - IX

The stylized profile of a proud lion graces the faces of these Danish Modernist cufflinks from the 1950's.  They are marked 830 silver and will look great on the cuff of your favorite LEO.  To learn more about this pair, please click on the photo above. Another LEO tomorrow.   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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Lots of LEOs - VIII

Antoine-Louis Bayre (1795-1875) was the premier Parisian Anamalier of the Nineteenth Century.  Even today, he remains amongst the best sculptors of animals in history.  His works displayed classic, active and highly naturalistic poses—capturing the energy, beauty and dignity of his wild animal subjects. Bayre was well-known in his lifetime and many of his works were cast in various sizes which allowed his work to find homes in museums, grand palaces or upper middle class homes.  This pair of bookends, made by Bradley & Hubbard (Connecticut) in the 1920's or 1930's, are inspired by the French master's work. Please click on the photo above to learn more about them. Another LEO tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently...

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Lots of LEOs - VII

Rippling with tension and anticipation, this regal lion stalks its prey from atop a rocky cliff.  The sculptor really captured the energy and attitude of this feline predator—a pair of bookends from the 1920's or 1930's.  They are a gift sure to inspire any hardworking LEO seeking to succeed in today's jungle.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about this gift. Another LEO tomorrow.   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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