JOURNAL — Sculpture RSS



An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part XV

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  This animated dragon decorates the monument of Pope Gregory XIII in Saint Peter's Basilica. He died in 1585 and the monument was completed over 100 years later (1715 - 1723) by late Baroque sculptor Camillo Rusconi. Despite this delay of honor, Pope Gregory XIII had an illustrious reign—for example, replacing the inaccurate Julian calendar with the better Gregorian calendar (which we still use today). Gregory was a church reformer. Under him the papacy grew in strength at the expense of (a sometimes corrupt) College of Cardinals. He put into effect the Council of Trent, covened (1545 - 1563) to address the Protestant Reformation....

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An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part XIV

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  Once the "new" Saint Peter's Basilica was constructed, it became time to design and install a fitting marker over the Papal Altar and tomb of Saint Peter, the Church's first pope. Enter architect and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, engaged by then Pope Urban VIII of the wealthy and influential Barberini family. The canopy over the altar is technically called a ciborium—although the broader decorative term baldacchino is more commonly used instead. Bernini designed and oversaw its production between 1623 and 1634. It is a massive form, assembled of individually cast bronze pieces, stands some 95 feet high, and...

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An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part XIII

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  At the age of 23, Michelangelo Buonarotti was hired to carve a funerary sculpture for the eventual tomb of French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères. What the young artist created—between 1498 and 1499—is amongst the most beautiful of all sculptures ever carved. In the 1700's, it was moved from the Cardinal's tomb and given pride-of-place in the first side chapel on the right as one enters Saint Peter's Basilica.  Pietà means "The Pity," and this arrangement—of Jesus in his mother's lap—was previously unknown in Italian sculpture. The idealized yet naturalistic composition conveys the sensation of weight and substance. It...

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An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part XII

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  While Michelangelo is my all time favorite artist, perhaps Gian Lorenzo Bernini is my second-favorite sculptor. He was born 34 years after Michelangelo's death and his work defines the motion (and emotion) of Italian Baroque marble sculpting. But Bernini was also an architect. He is responsible for creating the "welcoming arms" of the Piazza San Pietro—the two colonnades which line the sides (and define the shape of) the Basilica's massive front square. A church has been maintained on this site since the early 300's AD. From 1506 to 1626, Saint Peter's Basilica as we know it was...

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An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part XI

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  The bridge crossing the Tevere (or Tiber River), shown above, is called Ponte Sisto. It connects the Jewish Quarter (where I stay) to Trastevere, the new "Williamsburg of Rome."  It was commissioned by Pope Sixtus (hence the name), and was built from 1473 to 1479.  What's most important about the photo, however, is the beautiful dome glimmering in the background. It was designed by Michelangelo Buonarroti—the world's greatest sculptor—in 1547 and work was begun under his supervision. At the time of Michelangelo's death (in 1564), the lower "drum" had been completed. Pope Sixtus assigned Giacomo della Porta to...

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An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part X

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  Saint Michael, the protector, is one of the three Archangels recognized by the Catholic Church (alongside Saints Gabriel and Raphael). An enormous bronze statue of him stands guard above his namesake Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome—a fortress overlooking the River Tiber. The sculpture was modeled by Flemish artist Peter Anton von Verschaffelt and installed in 1753. He is shown sheathing his signature sword, commemorating the end of the plague in 590 AD. The Castel itself has a much older history. It was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family (between 134...

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An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part VIII

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  Lucca is a handsome, human-scaled Tuscan city, still encircled by its original Renaissance era brick wall. It is also the birthplace of composer Giaccomo Puccini (1858-1924) who wrote popular operas including La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Turandot. Puccini was one of nine children and he was raised in a family with music in its blood.  His father (and grandfather, great grandfather and great-great grandfather) was the "Maestro di Capella" at Lucca's Cathedral of San Martino (since the Middle Ages, an important stop for pilgrims working their way to Rome). Little Giaccomo probably would have followed in his forefathers' footsteps...

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An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part VII

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  My time is Genova was wonderful—a surprisingly interesting time in a city bustling with a rich, muscular energy. Although the city is not one of Italy's "top draws" for tourists, there is certainly plenty to see: a generous helping of "aesthetic evidence" of Genova's multiple centuries as a top player in the international world of shipping, finance and trade. Walking the streets of the city, one realizes that Genova did not develop itself through high-minded callings like academics, religion or artistic patronage. Genova built itself through hard work and industry. As a visitor, I felt like I...

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An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part VI

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  If ever sculpture and architecture were to marry, an "Atlas" would be their progeny. An atlas is an architectural support structure—like a column, pier or pilaster—presented in the form of the male figure (usually his top half). In Greek mythology, Atlas is the character who was required to forever hold-up the sky on his shoulders. The plural form is "Atlantes" and Romans called them "Telemon." They were first utilized in Greek Sicily and Southern Italy. Later, during the late Renaissance, they were revived, this time with Mannerist (twisting) or Baroque attitudes. Atlantes were almost always at least...

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An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part V

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  Genova was amongst the World's richest and most powerful port cities during the 1400's - 1600's, resulting in no shortage of beautiful and impressive architecture dating to this period.  Genova's cathedral, dedicated to San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence), was a beneficiary of the communities wealth—specifically the largesse of wealthy trading and banking families. Although it was built in the 12th - 14th Centuries, wealthy patrons continued to "update" the interiors in later years. Shown above, a detail of stonework framing one of the front doors. A mix of colorful, exotic materials all work together to create a harmonious...

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An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part III

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish.  Sorrento is a seaside town, built on the cliffs along the Amalfi Coast, on the Sorrentine Peninsula. Lemons are to be found everywhere and numerous small shops sell limoncello and all manner of soaps, potions and foodstuffs made from the tangy citrus fruit. While not quite as fancy as Taormina (in Sicily), Sorrento has nonetheless been popular with European visitors since the Nineteenth Century, hosting the likes of Lord Byron, John Keats, J.W. von Goethe, Charles Dickens, Richard Wagner, Henrik Ibsen, Friedrich Nietzsche, Enricco Caruso and Luciano Pavarotti. The beautifully carved stone lion head, shown above, anchors the...

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Fit for a Scholar

It's the Graduating Season and sometimes an uplifting gift is in-order. Amongst the world's best writers—and, certainly, Italy's greatest writer—is Dante Alighieri, scholar, poet and author of The Divine Comedy. In the Late Middle Ages, when Dante was writing, it was customary for serious literature to be written in Latin. Dante ignored this convention, writing in the Italian language (and, what's more, in the Tuscan dialect of his beloved Florence).  Since his death in 1321, Dante has influenced numerous writers, right up to the current age. Dante's relevance to the modern age is not confined to his writing—but concerns his politics.  It seems he found himself supporting the losing side of a political scrum in his home city of Florence. Alas,...

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Happy Mother's Day

Thank you to the women who raised us, taught us, set-us-straight.  The women who encouraged us, fed us, gave us life. Your sacrifice, heartache and unconditional love can never be repaid. Happy Mother's Day!   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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Danish Farrier

Every few decades (at least in the past), artists and designers would remember and celebrate "The Workingman"—those men and women who labor physically with their hands and bodies. Think of the French painter, Jean-François Millet, with his paintings of peasants reaping grain in the field. Or the pair of Art Deco limestone sculptures by Michael Lantz which grace the Federal Trade Commission building in Washington, DC. Similarly, the 1960's and 1970's enjoyed a revived appreciation of handcraft—and the people who executed it. Danish Modernist artist Karl Otto Johansen created a series of "tradesmen" plaques for Bing & Grøndahl around 1970. This example shows a farrier—a blacksmith who shoes horses—dressed in a leather apron, hammering furiously upon his anvil. The piece includes a...

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Danish Plumber

A plumber—dressed in his blue jumpsuit—strains against his wrench on this Danish Modernist stoneware plaque by Karl Otto Johansen for Bing & Grøndahl. It was made around 1970 and includes a metal eyelet (on back) with which it can be hung on a nail. 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...

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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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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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My Deer

This gentle little deer—a fawn, perhaps—is both relaxed and a little alert.  Did he hear a twig snap? He'd be happy to sit on your windowsill, bookshelf or desk.  He'd even look good next to a little bonsai. He was made in 1969 by Danish ceramicist Knud Kyhn for Royal Copenhagen. 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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This Bear was Made for Walking

You'll enjoy watching this stoneware bear—relaxed and happy—stroll across your desk, bookshelf or mantelpiece.  He was designed by Danish sculptor Knud Kyhn and made by Royal Copenhagen.  Click on the photo above to learn more about him. And see many other Knud Kyhn pieces in our on-line shop.   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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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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Best Christmas Wishes

Merry Christmas to my friends and loyal LEO Design customers. May your day be relaxing, restful and happy.  Thank you for your support.   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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International Monkey Day

On this day in the year 2000, a Michigan State University art student, Casey Sorrow, jokingly scribbled the words “Monkey Day” on a friend’s calendar.  Later that day, they celebrated the first International Monkey Day—and the “holiday” took off. Monkey Day celebrants dress in simian costumes and watch movies like “Planet of the Apes.”  In […]

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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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He Ain’t Heavy . . .

On this day in 1917, Father Edward J. Flanagan—a Roman Catholic priest working in Omaha, Nebraska—founded “Boys Town,”  a home for wayward boys.  The priest created an orphanage using then-innovative methods of juvenile care, creating a model of institutional child-raising—a far cry from notorious 19th century practices. Boys Town became most famous after the 1938 […]

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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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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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Sun Sign Scorpio

Autumn brings us Halloween, chilly nights, and the sun sign Scorpio—23 October through 22 November. Born in the eighth sign of the zodiac, Scorpios are known for their passion, sensuality, and dynamism—characteristics which make them admired as lovers.  Alas, deeply-rooted intensity can express itself as jealousy, possessiveness and manipulation. The carved and polychromed wooden plaque, […]

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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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Feast of Saint Teresa

The Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1647-52) Saint Teresa of Avila was born in Gottarrendura, Spain in 1515.  After a rather normal girlhood, Teresa lost her mother, plunging the 14 year old girl into profound sadness.  She developed a strengthened devotion to Mary but also took solace in “frivolous” books about knights, […]

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Now and Forever

On this day in 1982, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats, opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre.  The work, based on T. S. Eliot’s 1939 work “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” ran for nearly 18 years—making it the longest-running Broadway musical at the time.  Directed by theatre legend Trevor Nunn and choreographed by […]

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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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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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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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“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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Working Man Hero

From time to time, a country, a community or a culture will re-discover its appreciation for the talented working man (or woman).  During the Renaissance, important and powerful guilds were formed to enforce high standards amongst its members and to protect the workers and the reputation of the trade.  During the Age of Industrialization, newly-formed unions ensured that tradesmen were trained, properly compensated and kept safe.  In the early twentieth century—between the wars—there was an artistic movement which sought to present the laborer (and his class) in a dramatic, dynamic, or heroic manner (think of the American Ash Can painters, Soviet poster art, or the muscular human sculpture which embellishes 1930‘s Art Deco architecture).  After World War II, the Danish...

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More Birdsong

Yesterday we talked about the Fifth International Scouting Jamboree in Vogelenzang (“birdsong”), Netherlands in 1937.  Carrying-on with this theme, you’ll see above a hand-painted plaque with two fluffy birds (c. 1960’s – 1970’s). Siblings? Spouses? Mother & Chick?  I'm just not sure.  What I do know is that it's beautifully designed, nicely hand-painted and would make a handsome addition to any desk, home or office.  It was made in Denmark by Fajence Aluminia.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.

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Lots of LEOs - XVII

  Let's end our parade of LEOs with this whimsical offering: a Danish Modern stoneware plaque by Knud Kyhn for Royal Copenhagen. This frisky feline is caught in mid-leap, paw extended toward his feathered feast.  It's made to hang on the wall, though it could also be permanently mounted into a tile installation.  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 - 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 - 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 - 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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Stage Beauties of 1907

On this evening in 1907, master showman, Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., staged his first-ever Ziegfeld Follies production atop the roof of the New York Theatre, 46 Bowery, on New York’s Lower East Side.  Dressed in elaborate costumes and standing upon fantastical stage settings, Ziegfeld’s hand-picked beauties would sing and dance to the music of American composers […]

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Rolling into July

Tomorrow we roll into July—and a hot, sticky summer.  Maybe this little guy will help to keep us cool.  He was made in Denmark for Royal Copenhagen in the 1960's or 1970's.  Let him keep you company on your desk or coffee table—and, just maybe, he'll bring you back to a crisp, cool wintery day.  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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Terracotta Twins

Father and son team, Franz Detleff Goebel and William Goebel, founded F. & W. Goebel in 1871.  Soon afterward, they discovered their niche: beautifully-crafted sculptures and figurines aimed at the collector’s market.  For the next 140+ years, the company has grown and evolved—all the while adapting its product to satisfy the tastes of the times. […]

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Juneteenth

Although The Emancipation Proclamation was passed on 22 September 1862, and it was supposed to be effective—nation-wide—on 1 January 1863, Texas had other ideas.  It seems a contingent of anti-government Texas zealots refused to observe the new American law—something about Federal Oppression and States Rights.  So, Texans never informed their slaves that they had been […]

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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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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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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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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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International Workers’ Memorial Day

Begun in Canada in 1984, International Workers’ Memorial Day is celebrated to remember those who have perished at work and to highlight the often-preventable nature of such incidents.  In the United States, 12 people die every day in work-related accidents. Worldwide, a worker is killed every 15 seconds. Advocates continue to push for safer working […]

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Welcome, Taurus

From William Shakespeare, Harry Truman, and Queen Elizabeth II, to David Beckham, Penelope Cruz, and Cherilyn Sarkisian (aka: Cher), Taureans have long been pushing-forward, holding-the-line, and making the world a more comfortable place.  Known for their determination and sensibility, Taureans are also quite aesthetically-minded.  They like comfortable—though not necessarily grand—surroundings and value words, music and […]

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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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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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Henry Bergh’s Mission

Henry Bergh was the son of a wealthy shipbuilder and, as such, enjoyed a life of privilege, art and leisure.  While in London, he studied The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and committed to starting such an organization in America. On this day in 1866, Bergh founded the ASPCA in New […]

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A Monk Reading

Reginald Guy Cowan was born in 1884 in East Liverpool, Ohio—at the time an important center of American ceramics production. His father worked as a pottery designer.  While Cowan was still a boy, his family moved to Syracuse,  another pottery-producing center. Cowan was trained at the New York State School of Clayworking and Ceramics, a […]

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For the Dogs

The first dog show was held in the United Kingdom in 1859 and they became increasingly popular as the Nineteenth Century progressed.  Participants could find the competitions frustrating, however, as there was little consistency from show to show:  no governing body, no breed standards, no consistent show rules.  Dog breeder and enthusiast Seawallis Shirley assembled […]

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Monkey Business

Amongst the finest pieces of ceramic sculpture I’ve ever had is this Danish stoneware monkey by Knud Kyhn for Royal Copenhagen. Sculpted in the 1920’s, it captures a most-dramatic scene of a (howling?) monkey threatened by a coiled snake, ready-to-strike.  The gorgeous sang de boeuf glaze adds drama—and a bit of Orientalist mystery—to the timeless […]

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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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Nya Sverige

In the mid-Seventeenth Century, Sweden was quite the world power.  Its European territory included Sweden, of course, plus Finland, Estonia, and parts of modern-day Russia, Germany, Poland, and Latvia.  And so, when the riches of the New World began glimmering across the Atlantic, Sweden was loathe to leave the riches to the French and English. […]

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Italians in Sweden

Two Italian brothers, Josef & Benito Marcolin, learned the art of glass-making on the Venetian island of Murano, Italy, long-regarded as one of the world’s top art glass producers.   They moved to Sweden and, in 1962, opened a little workshop in Ronneby—the picturesque “Garden of Sweden” on the southern tip of that peninsular country. […]

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On This Day, Twelve Years Ago

On 21 March 2006—twelve years and a lifetime ago (to some)—Twitter was inflicted bequeathed upon an unsuspecting world.  Since then, in as few as 140 (make that 280) characters, fortunes have been made, careers have been ended, and proper grammar, punctuation and spelling have been tossed out the window. Well, let the Twits keep their Tweets!  As for me, I prefer my twitter-ing from the songbirds in the trees—perhaps the most pleasant sound of all. Speaking of Tweets, please observe the Danish Modern ceramic plaque, made by Beth Breyen for Royal Copenhagen in the 1960’s or 1970’s.  Please click on the photo to learn more about it. 

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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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The Musk Ox

Musk oxen are an Arctic mammal, found in Greenland, Siberia, Alaska, Northern Canada and parts of Northern Scandinavia.  They travel in small packs of 8 – 12 animals which, during the June and July breeding season, consist of a dominant male (“bull”) and several females (“cows”)—plus their offspring.  They have extremely thick coats—which protect them […]

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Equirria

In Ancient Rome, the New Year began with March.  To celebrate the end of the old year—and to honor the god Mars—Romans marked 27 February as Equirria, a day of horse racing in the Campus Martius (“Field of Mars”).  In a sense, every New Year was a “Year of the Horse.” Mars—the God of War […]

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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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A Day for the Other Football

All right, I admit it.  I am not now and never have been a fan of American Football.  Part of it's the violence and the concussions.  Part of it's the anonymity of the players—buried as they are under layers and layers of concealing nylon and plastic.  For me, American Football will never be as satisfying as the real Football (which is kicked with one's feet)—which, I think, requires much more stamina, fitness and constant running.  If you're  a fan of American Football, perhaps this “crystal ball” will score.  Made in Japan in the 1970’s or 1980’s, it would make a handsome paperweight or conversation-starter on a desk or bookshelf.  And with, Father's Day in the near future, perhaps it will help Dad...

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National Bird-Feeding Month

February is National Bird-Feeding Month, a period during which the public is educated about the feeding and watching of wild birds.  It began on 23 February 1994 when Representative John Porter (R – Illinois) introduced into the record a plea for individuals to provide food, water, and shelter for wild birds—especially in February, one of […]

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The Satyress

A Satyress is the female version of the Satyr—in this case, a human woman, usually bare-breasted, with the legs of a goat. While male Satyrs are commonplace in art, architecture and design, female Satyresses are not.  Because the male creatures are usually associated with drunkeness, mischief and raw, animalistic sexuality, perhaps Classical and Rennaisance artists avoided […]

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Bronze

Bronze is an alloy (a “blended” metal) of copper (generally 88%) and tin (12%)—though the mixture is often manipulated depending upon the intended use of the crafted object.  The first known use of bronze was in what is modern-day Iran, around 3600 BC.  The name, “bronze,” is derived from the Italian bronzo (from the Latin […]

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Benjamin Franklin

Besides keeping busy as a true Renaissance Man, Benjamin Franklin found time to help found The United States of America.  He was born on this day in 1706. Franklin was one of 10 children, born to a poor soap- and candle-maker in Boston.  Ben was smart and industrious; alas, his father could only afford two […]

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The 1910’s: “The Cathedral of Commerce”

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

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Frisky Feline

Let's start the New Year with a jump: a frisky feline leaps—half-heartedly—toward his temptingly delicious prey on this Danish Modern stoneware plaque.  Sculpted by artist Knud Kyhn for Royal Copenhagen, this oversized tile can be hung on the wall or permanently mounted with other tile work.  Please click on the photo to learn more about it.

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Welcome, Capricorn!

Today the Sun enters the heavenly zone of Capricorn (21 December - 19 January). Capricorns are the "Big Daddies" of the zodiac. They are realists, goal setters and strategists. They analyze, pick their destination, determine the shortest route and then keep their foot on the gas pedal. They make good, practical leaders, who keep their troops on the straight-and-narrow—not easily pulled off-track to "smell the flowers" or "try something new." They enjoy family and work life, and are often happiest when they can blend work and pleasure.  All this stoic self-direction can have negative aspects, however. Ruled by Saturn, Capricorns can be stern taskmasters—with no appreciation of spontaneousness or creative chaos. Foolish decisions really get their goat! And their paternalistic...

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One That Didn't Get Away!

I spent 10 days in Japan this summer—and did not see ONE of these fantastic hand-carved Hokkaido bears.  Instead, I came across a Japanese collector in London who was selling his collection of them!  I bought four (which can be seen on the website, www.LEOdesignNYC.com).  This one is the biggest—and amongst the biggest carved bears I've ever had.  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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Women Getting Ahead

On this day in 1850, the first “National Women’s Rights Convention” was assembled in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Lectures, discussions, and speeches addressed issues of equality for women:  wages, education & careers, property rights, and, of course, voting.  Also present were groups advocating temperance and the abolition of slavery. The idea germinated ten years earlier, in 1840, […]

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Anaheim, California

On this day in 1857, the city of Anaheim, California was founded by 50 German families—grape farmers and vintners.  The name is a compound of “Ana” (for the nearby Santa Ana River) and “Heim,” German for “home.”  When the grape crops were destroyed by disease, farmers began to plant nut trees and citrus. On the […]

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Lucky Break

Sometimes a little bit of luck can’t hurt!  Maybe this sterling silver wishbone will push things over the finish line.  Made in California, this little sculpture makes for a thoughtful “good luck” wish—and a reminder to give thanks for lucky moments in the past.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it. […]

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Deer Father

For the dad with taste and an appreciation for craftsmanship, here’s an idea:  a damascened plate, possibly from Toledo, Spain.  Damascening—named after the luxurious damask fabrics from the ancient Syrian city—is the inlaying of a (usually) precious metal into another, more common metal base.  Intricacy and precision are the watchwords—and the plate above ticks all […]

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Sailing Off

The moving truck comes tomorrow morning.  The boxes are (mostly) packed and the shop fixtures are arranged by the front door.  In two days, I’ll set-sail for new (and exciting?) shores.  If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by and say goodbye.     LEO Design will be closing its doors on 31 January.  Please […]

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Difficult to Bear

Over the past three weeks, I’ve been blessed with visits from my most loyal and supportive customers.  At some point, they ask, “How are you handling the closing?”  My response is always the same:  “If I weren’t so busy closing-up, I might have time to feel a bit wistful.”  In three days, when I turn […]

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Riding Off

Before we close our doors, we want to go-out with a bang!  All merchandise (in-store and on-line) is marked-down—from 25% to 75%.  Please come in and, perhaps, get yourself that late Christmas gift—now on-sale.  But hurry; merchandise is moving fast.  Shown above: bronze sculptures of a mare and her foal.   LEO Design will be […]

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Owl Be Seeing You…

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

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Ready to Pounce

Like the handsome feline sculpture above, our customers have been pouncing on great buys at LEO Design—where everything (remaining) has been marked-down (both in-store and on-line).   Please come visit us or check-out our on-line shop.   LEO Design will be closing its doors on 31 January.  Please visit the store (or website) where all […]

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Be Prepared!

It’s been a while since I fit into my Cub Scout uniform—but I do remember the motto: “Be Prepared!”  And, indeed, this little Boy Scout sculpture is prepared to take up residence on your desk, bookshelf or mantlepiece.  Please come in and see him. All merchandise (in-store or on-line) is now25% off—and some merchandise is […]

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Not So Slow!

Things have been very brisk since we announced the pending closure of our brick-and-mortar store in Greenwich Village.  Despite the excitement, this Canadian bronze snail continues his slow and careful pace.  Come in to the shop to see him. All merchandise (in-store or on-line) is now (at least) 25% off—making it the perfect time to […]

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