JOURNAL — Metalwork RSS



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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Lots of LEOs - VI

Many lions drift toward "fierce."  This little cast bronze lion is unabashedly cute—and, perhaps, just a little vulnerable. Made in the Michigan, he'll keep you in his gaze with his (dare I say it?) puppy eyes.  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 - V

A (hungry-looking) mountain lion stalks its prey on this pair of cast iron bookends from the 1920's.  Beautifully sculpted, it crackles with tension—and still has small remnants of its original (90 year old) paint.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. 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 - IV

The King of the Jungle doesn't mind helping-out in the kitchen.  This English bronze mortar and pestle is small but handy—not to mention, stylish. Use it to pulverize fresh herbs and make small batches of culinary pastes.  You will find-out more about it 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 - III

Just remember: not all LEOs are boys!  This cast bronze lioness will stalk your desk with style—holding-down your papers, if you wish.  Click on the picture 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 - II

This little LEO—made of cast bronze in California—has the word "Courage" impressed upon his tummy.  Though small, he is full of style (and substance).  And a welcome gift for any LEO in your life.  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 - I

Welcome, LEO!  It was 28 years ago, this month, when we first opened our doors on Bleecker Street.  Boy, how things have changed!  One thing that has not changed is the enormous pride LEOs take in their sun sign, the lion. Therefore, indulge us why we share a "parade" of lion items over the next several days. Shown above, a pair of cast iron "Proud Lion" bookends from the 1920's.  They have been cast in fine detail and finished with a copper patina.  Made in the 1920's, they will be warmly-received by any self-respecting LEO. Please click on the photo above to learn more about these bookends. And, by the way, LEO extends from 23 July to 22 August. Another LEO...

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Heavy/Light

"Brutalist" design took-off after World War II.  It began in the world of architecture, inspired by the design of Le Corbusier—in particular, with his use of unfinished poured cement as a building material.  The French word for "raw" (unfinished) cement is Béton-Brut, which (one theory proposes) may have provided the genesis of the word "Brutalist."  Cast cement was seen as a revolutionary material in architecture. It was inexpensive, suitable for expressive, novel shapes, and it was "honest" (meaning it duplicated its mould perfectly and presented itself without embellishment or affectation).  For better or worse, cement became a very popular architectural material in the 1950's , 60's and 70's. Novel architectural trends spread throughout the design world, including to the decorative arts...

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The Dog Days of Summer

It’s already happening—the Dog Days of Summer have arrived.  Hot.  Smelly.  The crosswalk seemingly sinking beneath our feet.  But where does the term originate? It began in ancient Rome.  Astronomers noticed that during the period when Sirius (also called the “Dog Star”—and the brightest star in the sky) rose and set alongside the sun, the […]

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Saddle Up!

Saddled-up! Ready-to-go! But first: a little snack! This pair of cast iron bookends, made in the 1920's, still retain much of their original paint.  They are certain to please your pickiest equestrian. 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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New York’s First Savings Bank

On this day in 1819, New York’s first savings bank, The Bank of Savings, opened on Bleecker Street at Crosby.  Savings banks had been well-received in Europe in the prior century and both Boston and Philadelphia already had one apiece.  They were usually opened by local governments, guilds, or a wealthy, socially-conscious individual with the […]

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World UFO Day

According to “people in-the-know,” on this day in 1947, an Unidentified Flying Object crash-landed at Roswell, New Mexico.  Such believers assert that the U.S. government has sought, since then, to cover-up this alarming—yet compelling—event.  Therefore we have “World UFO Day,” a day to build the public’s awareness of (quote) “the undoubted existence of UFOs” and […]

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A New Federal Holiday

On this day in 1870, Congress declared Christmas a U.S. Federal Holiday. With five months to go before the start of this year’s Holiday Season, LEO Design is already writing orders, traveling to build-up inventory, and preparing for another busy December.  Here’s a picture of a punched-tin Christmas sign which I just found in Western Pennsylvania and may […]

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Happy Father's Day!

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years!”   – Mark Twain   A word of thanks and a wish of happiness to all fathers—and father figures—on their special day. Shown above, an Italian sand-cast pewter minute glass, now in-stock at LEO Design.  May it help us to remember how very precious is the time spent with our dads.  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...

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Bedtime Stories

Rupert Bear was brought to life on 8 November 1920 under the pen of English artist Mary Tourtel.  He was commissioned by the Daily Express as a means of luring readers away from rival newspapers.  Over the years, a succession of artists have inherited Tourtel's creation—and, indeed, the comic strip still runs to this day.  In it, Rupert Bear and his best friend Bill Badger have adventures with their many chums, including Edward Trunk the elephant, Willie the mouse, Pong-Ping the Pekingese pup, twins Reggie & Rex Rabbit, and Ming the dragon. The little brass sculpture, pictured above, was made in England in the 1920's.  He will be a faithful companion on dad's desk or bedside—and may remind him of the many bedtime...

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A Football is Round!

The quadrennial FIFA World Cup begins today in Russia. "Russia?" you ask. Umm-Hmm. And on Day One they play . . . Saudi Arabia!  It seems Russia is everywhere these days!  In this one case, however, America will not be in-collusion: the U.S. failed to make it into the final 32 qualifying teams. (So much for Making America Great Again). The U.S. team does have notable company on the sidelines: Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast all failed to make it into the tournament.  Fox Broadcasting, which had already purchased the U.S. rights to cover the games, is concerned that American viewership will be even lower than usual (given no American team in the competition). Instead, they will...

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School's Out!

If your dad's a teacher, this gift will hit the mark.  But even if he isn't, he may relish the opportunity to ring for a little attention.  Made in England during the 1880's or 1890's, this bronze Aesthetic Movement school bell is topped with a turned ebonywood knob.  Large and heavy, it is certain to be noticed—sitting on a desk or being shaken with vigor.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it. More Father's Day gift ideas 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...

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Padre and Poet

Perhaps literature strikes your father's fancy.  Or—wow!—poetry.  Here's a pair of bookends which celebrates two writers of note.  Alexander Pope and Andrew Young were both British poets—the former an Englishman, the latter a Scotsman—and both men were influential in their times. Pope (1688 – 1744) had a difficult early life.  As a Catholic, he was not allowed to go to school (due to the English “Test Acts” which banned Catholics from teaching, attending college, holding public office, or going to Catholic grade school).  Alexander was homeschooled, for a time, and later attended an illegal, underground school.  When a law was passed disallowing Catholics from living within 10 miles of London, his family moved to the country and the young man’s...

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Italian Sand-Cast Pewter

Sand-casting is an ancient method of metalwork whereby the original item (to be duplicated) is pressed into a tray of sticky sand.  When the object is removed, it leaves behind a depression into which molten metal is poured.  After cooling, the newly-cast piece is retrieved, cleaned-up and ready for the next manufacturing step.  It's a very simple method and not highly sophisticated, thus, metal objects made this way are subject to small manufacturing idiosyncrasies (pock marks, burrs and wavy surfaces).  In the case of this Italian sand-cast pewter photo frame, little flaws simply serve to add charm to the piece—and underline the frame's handmade bona fides.  Shown above, a 5x5 frame with tight all-over stippling.  It is one of many...

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Gothic Arches

If you ask me, The Gothic remains the highpoint of all architectural design—followed closely by the Gothic Revival.  I love the soaring look, the interplay of heavy and light, and (especially) the handcraft which adorns all Gothic structures. Add to that the fact that some Gothic structures are approaching their one thousandth birthday!  These bookends—two arched windows, each one trimmed with a bit of trailing ivy—were made in the 1920's and provide a light touch of Gothic genius. They are heavy and handsome—and would look great on your bookshelf, desk or mantelpiece.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about them. More Father's Day gift ideas tomorrow.    LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we...

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"Song of Hiawatha"

"The Song of Hiawatha" is an epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, published in 1855.  It follows a number of American Indian characters—notably the warrior Hiawatha and his lover Minnehaha—along the southern shore of Lake Superior.  It was an immediate success, selling over 50,000 copies in its first two years, and it created an indelible impression of Indian life and people in the popular imagination.  Critics view the poem as the romantic creation of a non-native writer and Longfellow's source materials and understanding of real Native American culture have been called into question. Nevertheless, it is a monumental work of American Romantic literature and it played an important role in Nineteenth Century popular culture. The bookends, above, present quotes from the...

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Pancho Villa

One day ago, in 1878, José Doroteo Arango Arámbula was born in the small village of San Juan del Rio, Mexico.  He is best known by his nickname, Pancho Villa, and was a key figure in the Mexican Revolution which began in 1910.  Pancho Villa and his fighters supported Francisco Madero, an advocate of democracy […]

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The Lincoln Memorial

On this day in 1922, the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated and opened to the public on the National Mall in Washington D.C.  In attendance was the 16th President’s only surviving child, 79 year-old Robert Todd Lincoln. Begun in 1914, with funds approved by Congress, the Beaux-Arts, Greek Doric Temple was designed by architect Henry Bacon […]

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English Armor

Shields serve a purpose: to protect its bearer from harm be it arrows, lances or clubs. Functional, utilitarian shields should be strong and light, making them portable and effective.  The less embellishment they have, the more practical they become.  With decorative dress shields, however, the goal is to impress—with wealth, style or military might.  Dress […]

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Science and Study

It's graduation time!  And—whether you're leaving high school, college or medical school—it's nice to commemorate the achievement.  How about a pair of bookends?  Handsome and practical, they will remind you of this special milestone—not to mention, the generous person who presented them to you. This pair of heavy cast-iron bookends were made in the 1920’s by Bradley & Hubbard (Meriden, Connecticut).  Despite their drowsy appearance, these monks are fully able to hold up the heaviest of text books—while continuing their science and study.  Please click on the photo to learn more about them.

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Wisdom

Owls have long been associated with wisdom, knowledge, vision and judgement.  The ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena (after whom Athens is named), often was depicted with a little owl.  The same is true of Minerva, Athena’s Roman version. And, in ancient times, an owl spotted during a time of crises was considered a very […]

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Queenly Substance

Until recently, England’s Queen Victoria had been the longest-reigning monarch in British history.  Some of England’s greatest achievements (and changes) have occurred under a woman’s crown. Each of the “Big Three” (Elizabeth, Victoria and Elizabeth II) enjoyed long reigns and it’s fascinating to contemplate how much the world (and their country) changed during the course […]

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King of the Jungle

Let the countdown begin!  Two months 'til LEO! The day this noble beast followed me home, I photographed him and  popped him right onto the website! Beautifully sculpted—and, alas, so much better-looking in-person—this bronze-clad sculpture captures the confident strength (and muscles) of the King of All Animals.  Made in the 1920's, he's based on the original design by Antoine-Louis Bayre, the French anamalier extraordinaire from the Nineteenth Century.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about him.

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To the Joust!

Noble steeds strain against the bit—eager for the tournament to begin.  Atop them, mounted knights gird themselves for the battle, lances in-hand.  Let this pair of bronze-clad bookends add a bit of majesty (or at least a little pomp) to your desk, den or library.  Made in the 1920’s, they still retain an impressive portion […]

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Eagle Post

I love letter racks!  Perhaps it’s my ambition to impose organization upon my desk . . . someday.   Perhaps I like the combination of antique style and present-day practicality. Or, perhaps, I just like possessing the relic of an imagined, distant, more-orderly time. Shown above: a Nineteenth Century Victorian American letter rack with a […]

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Precious Pups

In the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, England was crazy for all themes Asian—tea, ceramics, wallpaper, even light opera.  Apparently the infatuation continued through the Twenties and Thirties, as evidenced by these English cast brass Pekingese bookends. Crisply cast—from two separate “mirrored” molds—the sculptor artfully conveyed the “entitled personalities” of these precious pups.  Please […]

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Art and Islam

There’s a long and impressive history of fine metal-tooling throughout the Middle East and North Africa—especially on seemingly utilitarian objects like trays, pots, lanterns and table tops.  Since much of the Middle East and North Africa is Islamic, local craftsmen observe the strictures of their religion (to greater or lesser degrees) when it comes to […]

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Happy Mother’s Day

A special Mother’s Day wish for all moms—and for all the women who give selflessly of themselves for the benefit of others.  Thank you! Shown above, an attentive mare relaxes and grazes while her inquisitive foal heads-off exploring.  Cast of bronze, the mare is $95 and the foal is $68.  Please come into the shop […]

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Tray Bien

Another English Arts & Crafts brass tray—part of our ever-expanding collection—is shown above. Made by Joseph Sankey & Son, it looks across the English Channel for inspiration from the French Art Nouveau.  Please click on the photo to learm more about it.

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Tray Beau

Here's an exquisite gift idea for Mother's Day—as beautifully executed a piece of metalsmithing as we’ve ever had.  A scrolling, Art Nouveau botanical motif is repeatedly rendered in each quadrant of this octagonal brass tray.  Not only is the design beautifully voluptuous, it is executed crisply and with great precision—obviously the work of a master craftsman.  This tray typifies the “more-formal” dimension of the British Arts & Crafts movement, though it would also be sensational (and useful!) in either a highly-modern or rustic country milieu.

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Tray Chic

I've assembled a collection of handsome English Arts & Crafts brass trays from the turn-of-the-century.  Though each is crafted of hand-hammered brass, each is quite different, indeed. Over the next few days, I’ll share three of these trays with you. Shown above, the work of an accomplished metalsmith.  Intertwined shamrocks, thistles, and Tudor roses—representing Ireland, Scotland, and England—bloom along the oval track of this brass English Arts & Crafts tray.  Please come into the shop to appreciate it in-person or click on the photo above to learn more about it. Another tray tomorrow.

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The World’s Greatest Music. Ever.

On this evening in 1824, with his musical score positioned before him, composer Ludwig van Beethoven stood at the edge of the stage of the jam-packed Theatre am Kärntnertor in Vienna, Austria.  The audience was abuzz and the largest orchestra ever assembled for the composer was at-the-ready, prepared to debut Beethoven’s newest (and final) work, […]

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Holding Court

A regal lion holds court from this handsome pair of cast iron bookends, made in the 1920’s. Newly in-store, they’d be a great gift idea for your favorite Leo (which begins less than three months from now)—or person of any sun sign.  Please click on the photo to learn more about them or come into […]

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Mama Bear (and Her Cubs)

This sweet trio of bears—Mama, First Born and Second Born—is cast in bronze then hand-finished, patinated and buffed.  Individually or as a group, these little critters will remind Mom of her cute little cubs.  Mama: $38.  Cubs: $28 each. Please come into the shop to see them or call for further information. More Mother’s Day […]

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May the Fourth be with You

Today is “Star Wars Day,” a day on which sci-fi geeks and film buffs celebrate all things Star Wars.  The date, May 4th, was chosen because it sounds like the iconic phrase “May the Force be with you.”  The first organized celebration was held in Toronto in 2011.  Activities included a trivia game show, a […]

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Maggie the Cat

On this day in 1955, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama was awarded to “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” by playwright Tennessee Williams.  The judging committee, comprised of four critics and one academic, had always been subject to override by the Pulitzer organization—and, in this instance, Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. lobbied hard on behalf of Tennessee […]

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Welcome, May!

Welcome, May, and your birthstone: the Emerald! There are only four precious gemstones—and emeralds are one of them, making them highly valuable.  And because emeralds are so susceptible to flaws, a perfect emerald is extremely rare. For this reason, emeralds traditionally are graded with the naked eye (not high magnification) which creates a little extra tolerance for the beautiful green gem.  Like other gemstones, color is paramount; great emeralds have a deep, bright color.  But clarity is also very important—more so than with most other stones. Emeralds are a variety of Beryl and its green color is due to chromium "impurities" within the stone.  They were mined in Egypt as early as 1500 BC. They've also been found in the New...

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Steeling the Past

The worldwide Arts & Crafts movement—Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Secessionist, Mission—shared many similarities, including the revival of earlier historical or aesthetic elements.  One of the classic touchstones is The Gothic. This pair of German Jugendstil bookends are made of hand-hammered steel, punctuated with riveted steel edging.  Their thin profile makes them well-suited to a book collection with limited space for a thicker, heavier bookend.  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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An Undersea Garden

A happy fish swims by—solo—in his undersea Garden of Eden.  Made in Edwardian England (c. 1910), it will bring a touch of stately whimsy to your desk or hall table.  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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Mucha in America

Alfons Maria Mucha (1860-1939) was born in Moravia, today a part of the Czech Republic.  He went to high school at the "Gymnázium Brno" while he pursued his passion for drawing.  He made money by singing in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul (in Brno) where he was artistically inspired by the church's Baroque interiors and he befriended the great (future) Czech composer, Leoš Janáček.  He took jobs as a decorative painter, mostly painting theatrical scenery.  Eventually he was hired-away to paint stage scenery in Vienna—the cultural center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Mucha studied in Munich and Paris—where he stumbled upon a lucky break.  While visiting a Paris print shop in 1894, he learned that the play Gismonda, staring...

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Shakespeare’s Death

On this day in 1616, William Shakespeare, perhaps the world’s greatest-ever writer, died at 52 years of age.   It was  one month after signing his will—which began with a convincing proclamation of his vigorous health.  While we don’t know how or why he died, one written account (half a century later) describes a night […]

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Buon Compleanno a Roma!

On this day in 753 BC (or so the story goes), twin brothers Romulus and Remus founded the great city of Rome.  Happy Birthday, Rome!  But the story before this founding is as wild and interesting as anything that came after it. Romulus and Remus were the grandsons of Numitor, King of Alba Longa (along […]

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Craftsman Copper

I really love hand-hammered copper—and this pair of American Arts & Crafts bookends really scratches that itch.  Made around 1910, they boast varying hand-tooling techniques and are finished with a hand-painted emblem.  Signed "Craftsman."  See them in our on-line store 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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Where the Buffalo Roam...

A pair of dramatically-sculpted bison will stampede across your bookshelf in this handsome pair of bronze-clad bookends, made in the 1920's.  Enormous herds of bison roamed the American grasslands until the Nineteenth Century, when they were hunted to near-extinction. Today, small herds have made a comeback—mostly in National parks.  Weighing upwards of 2,200 pounds, the animal is the largest "bovid" in the world and the largest wild land animal in the Americas. Please click upon the photo above to learn more about these bookends.   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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Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris is one of the World's great cathedrals.  The name means "Our Lady of Paris" and refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Construction was begun in 1163 and continued for the next 182 years.  It was built in the "new" French Gothic style on the Île de la Cité—a natural island floating within the Seine—which was the defensible center of Medieval Paris.  The building, including its many gargoyles and chimera, was originally colored though (after 800 years) the paint has mostly worn off.  And the structure is the first building in the world to employ "flying buttresses"—the arched ribs which hold-up the cathedral's walls. Two bell towers stand at the front of the church.  In the Southern...

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Lincoln’s Last Night

On this day in 1865—at 10:15 pm—beloved president Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot by actor, racist and Confederate patriot John Wilkes Booth.  Lincoln died the next morning at 7:22. Five days earlier, Confederate general Robert E. Lee had surrendered to Union general Ulysses S. Grant, thus ending the Civil War.  Booth was bitter over the […]

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America’s First Elephant

On this day in 1796, America’s first elephant arrived in New York City.  Captain Jacob Crowninshield purchased her in India and sailed from Calcutta.  The captain bought her on speculation—for $450, including transit—expecting he could profit from exhibiting her. And exhibit her he did!  For more than a dozen years, she was trundled from New […]

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Thinking about Spring

Rodin first created "Le Penseur" in 1880 as part of a larger sculpted grouping called "The Gates of Hell." The work was based on Dante's The Divine Comedy.  It wasn't until 1904 that the first large stand-alone casting was made—and the broad public got its first exposure to a work which perfectly suited the times.  Psychology increasingly was viewed as a legitimate science and the public was intrigued 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, an artful and accurate model—which captured the spirit and energy of Rodin's original—had to be sculpted.  From this...

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International Children’s Book Day

Today is Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday—as well as International Children’s Book Day. Begun in 1967, the day is dedicated to promoting books and reading amongst young people. Each year a different country is asked to “host” the celebration;  that country picks a theme, organizes events, and selects a local author and illustrator (who designs that […]

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Easter Greetings!

  A joyous Easter to my Christian customers—and a wonderful Springtime to all! This little jackrabbit is ready to hop off to your desk, bookshelf or mantelpiece.  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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National Doctors’ Day

On this day in 1842, Georgia physician Crawford Williamson Long, M.D., became the first doctor to use ether for surgical anesthetization.  In 1990, Congress declared 30 March “National Doctors’ Day,” a day on which doctors are honored and their contributions to society are recognized.  Around the world, different countries honor their doctors on different days […]

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World Theatre Day

Today is World Theatre Day, celebrated each 27 March.  Each year, an internationally-recognized theatre luminary is selected to compose and circulate an International Message, reflecting on the importance of theatre to the world and human culture.  This year’s Message is written by Polish stage director Krzysztof Warlikowski. As theatre luminaries go, who could top The […]

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Farewell, Beethoven

Ludwig von Beethoven—perhaps the world’s greatest composer—was born to a family of musicians in Bonn, Germany in 1770.  Both his father and grandfather were singers and musicians.  Ludwig’s father, Johann, was his first piano teacher and, by all accounts, a strict one.  Johann recognized his son’s performing genius and attempted to exploit his talent as […]

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Listen, my Children, and You Shall Hear. . .

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born on 27 February 1807 in Portland, Maine.  An industrious and able student, with a love of books and a talent for writing, he mastered Latin while still a young boy.  At 15, he started at Bowdoin College where he befriended Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was to become a lifelong friend. While in […]

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Trumpeting His Arrival!

With a trumpet blast, this handsome tusker makes his recent arrival known!  Though going-on ninety, he’s no worse for wear—in fact, he’s developed the wonderful patina of time. And he’ll work as hard as ever, holding-up your favorite books with style and confidence. Please come into the shop to see him in-person or click on […]

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Modern Time Zones Established

On this day in 1918, Congress established U.S. time zones and Daylight Savings Time. In the Nineteenth Century, once clocks had become widespread, every city, town, or village would keep its own time—much as it always had—based roughly on the sun’s passing overhead.  Usually a town hall or church would establish the time and everyone […]

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Pick of the Litter

Look who scampered in today!  With the all the character—and the energy—of the real thing, this sculpture slouches perfectly on a desk, coffee table or bookcase.  He could even be used as a bookend or doorstop. Please come in to visit (and, perhaps, adopt) him or click on the photo above to learn more about […]

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Reflections of Glasgow

I love visiting Scotland.  And I love most things Scots—especially the Scottish Arts & Crafts. Therefore, I’m thrilled to have acquired, from turn-of-the-century Glasgow, a handsome, hand-hammered, brass-framed “looking glass”—embellished with a rich border of stylized, scrolling, sinewy botanicals. The Scots are a hearty lot; life eeked-out on the rocky, windswept land is not for […]

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The Aesthetic Movement

In the final third of the Nineteenth Century, the West—and Britain in particular—became fascinated with the art and craft of the Japanese (who recently had ended 250 years of self-imposed isolation from the West).  For the first time in generations, Japanese-made objets were available in the West, at least to those who could afford them. […]

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Pewter

Pewter is an alloy—that is, a “mixed metal”—of mostly tin and a little copper, plus antimony (a hardner) and bismuth.  In old pewter, sometimes lead was used, though today’s pewter is usually lead-free (especially for food-related items).  Additionally, sterling silver is sometimes included (especially on pieces with complex designs, where a bit of sparkle is […]

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Repoussé Work and Chasing

“Repoussé” is a French adjective meaning “pushed up,” derived from the Latin “pulsare,” which means “to push.” In metalwork, it refers to the process of hammering a malleable metal from the reverse side, creating a low relief design on the front. After “Repoussage” (the noun form of repoussé) has been achieved, the design on the […]

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Science and The Art Nouveau – Part Two

“The God-given natural forms of leaves and flowers must be more perfect and beautiful than any invention of man.” – Augustus Pugin (1812-1852) With great strides being made in the advancement of scientific knowledge, botany was much-studied and better-understood.  Although the compound microscope was a Renaissance invention (thank Galileo), it was not until the 1830’s […]

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Backwards Glances

The Arts & Crafts Movement—whether it happened to take place in England, America, or Continental Europe—would frequently look back to the motifs, icons, and  stylistic flourishes of that culture’s earlier peoples.  Americans “lifted” Native American symbols.  The English loved reviving Medieval literary themes. One of my favorite backward-looking references is to The Gothic.  This English […]

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It's the Year of the Dog!

Gung Hay Fat Choy!  And a happy Year of the Dog! The dog is the eleventh sign in the lunar zodiac—and a popular one, too!  And this year, we celebrate the "Earth Dog."  Known for their tenaciousness, dogs won't let go of their bone once they have it.  And this fierceness translates to their personal loyalty as well;  they will never abandon their friends, famiy or work.  For this reason, dogs are often sought for their good advice—good honest advice.  At times, this brutal honesty can be mistaken for brusqueness.  In truth, dogs just want their critiques to help improve people and situations.  Despite their popularity, and the confidence they engender, dogs are often quite anxious deep inside. Dogs get...

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The Aesthetes

In the Nineteenth Century, in England (and other parts of Europe), a lovely and short-lived garden bloomed:  The Aesthetes.  This collection of writers, artists, designers, and educators believed that Beauty was amongst life’s highest ideals—”Art for Art’s Sake” was their mantra.  The Arts (including music, theatre, decorative and fine arts) should strive to provide refined, […]

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LEO Marches On!

Today's a red letter day at LEO Design—we launch our new and improved website!  While our older website has served us well for several years, we wanted a site that allowed for bigger, better product pictures and would be reliable (under the hood) for years to come. Our new site allows customers to contact us via e-mail and jump directly to our Instagram and Facebook accounts.  We hope you like it! Mountains of credit go to my webmaster extraordinaire, Brad Soucy, who created this new site—despite a super-busy life as a father, husband and technology bigwig at Virginia Tech.  If he weren't so busy, I'd propose all of you hire him.  You'd not regret it!  He's a talented artist, a super person...

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A Capital Capitol!

The U.S. Capitol building—one of Washington D.C.’s cardinal landmarks—sits atop a hill, overlooking the Washington Mall.  It’s most basic function is to house the two chambers of the Congress, although many other important occasions are celebrated or performed there. Presidents are usually inaugurated upon an exterior platform built off the West façade (which overlooks the […]

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Il Poeta

Durante degli Alighieri—best known as “Dante”—was born in Florence, Italy about the year 1265 (the best estimate of literary scholars).  He is considered the greatest-ever writer in the Italian language and, indeed, is amongst the most important poets in the world.  His signature works, The Divine Comedies, trace his travels through the Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio, […]

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Day and Night

Alongside his buxom companion, “Day” rests also atop the tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici, Duke of Nemours.  Carved by Michelangelo between 1526 and 1531, this muscular, male nude has been described “as intensely alert as a recumbent form can be.” “Day” and “Night” are but two of seven sculptures by Michelangelo to be found in […]

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Night and Day

Long before Cole Porter wrote his brilliant and witty tune, another (earlier) artistic genius explored the themes of “Night and Day.”  Michelangelo Buonarroti—premier Florentine Renaissance giant—sculpted a pair of imposing marble nudes which he draped upon the tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici (Duke of Nemours) in the Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence. Created between […]

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Pride and Prejudice

On this day in 1813, “Pride & Prejudice” was published in London—attributed only to “the author of ‘Sense & Sensibility’.”  Today we know the author was Jane Austen.  We also know the book was long in coming. Jane Austen began writing the book in 1796 and titled it “First Impression.”  The next year, her father […]

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Through the Looking Glass

On this day in 1832, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born.  He studied and taught mathematics at Oxford, excelled in the new art form, photography, was an Anglican Deacon, and wrote poetry and books—under the pen name, Lewis Carroll. While teaching at Oxford, he befriended a new dean, Henry Liddell, his wife and children. The youngest […]

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Antoine-Louis Barye

Antoine-Louis Barye was a Parisian Animalier—a sculptor of animals.   He was born in 1796 and got his start as an apprentice under Napoleon’s goldsmith.  In 1816, he was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux Arts where he pursued sculpture—initially honing his talent with medallions and bas relief works.  Barye enjoyed spending time sketching animals of the […]

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Appeal to the Great Spirit

American sculptor Cyrus Dallin (1861 – 1944) unveiled his masterpiece, “Appeal to the Great Spirit,” in Paris in 1909—where it won the gold medal at that year’s Paris Salon.  It became popular immediately—especially in America—and the image has been used everywhere from advertising to album covers.  Smaller copies of the work have been made and installed across […]

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