Back-to-School cannot be (must not be) all study and drudgery. American Football plays a major role at many schools across the nation. Get into the school spirit with this Japanese crystal football by Sasaki, c. 1960's -1970's. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Modern people—especially urban denizens—often long for a little place in the country where they can get-away from the bustle of workaday life. A place to go, perhaps for the weekend, where they can relax amidst nature and "recharge their batteries." The Adirondacks in Upstate New York is full of city dwellers (at least on the weekends). Bostonians choose Cape Cod, New Hampshire or Maine to get away. And the many (many) islands which populate the waterways near Stockholm are dotted with thousands of cute red and white weekend cabins. Whether used for hunting, fishing, reading or cooking, these little weekend homes provide the rest and relaxation needed to counteract the hustle-and-bustle of modern, city life. This little log cabin,...
It's Star Wars Day. May the Fourth be with you! Although this "holiday" is only casually observed, it has developed resonance with some—especially space movie geeks and Science Fiction aficionados. It will be followed closely by "Geek Pride Day" on 25 May, the date on which the original Star Wars movie was released in 1977. (I remember going to see Star Wars on opening weekend with my father. What a landmark event that movie release was to become!) The cast bronze bank, shown above, holds coins and opens with the turn of a screw. A stately star sits near the cockpit. Four stylish fins hold the rocket aloft.
Building blocks have long been given to children—for play, for learning, to inspire creativity. This small set of blocks, from the Turn-of-the-Century, come in their own flat presentation box, complete with sliding, decorated lid. Some of the blocks are carved into balustrade shapes. Others are clad in a decorated paper skin. Great for a school child or as a conversation piece on an architect's desk or credenza.
Ready to shut-off the computer? Already watched everything good on Netflix? Perhaps this "Puzzle-Peg" game board, from the 1920's, will scratch that old-time "quiet-evening-at-home" itch? Like "Chinese Checkers," pegs are eliminated by jumping over them with other pegs. The goal: to remove all pegs except for one peg—left in the center hole of the board. One can play alone or with a friend and the instruction booklet offers many other possible challenges. The set includes all the pegs, instruction manual and original box. The original booklet (included) informs us that "Puzzle-Peg is a boon to old people, shut-ins and invalids" and "it can be played while sitting in a chair or lying in bed. It completely takes their mind from...
Spring is coming—and summer "beach weather" will not be far behind. We will not be able to hide beneath those chunky-knit sweaters for much longer. Time to hit the gym! A century ago—when these turned maple dumbbells were crafted—"strength training" was the domain of a very few, hardy souls: bodybuilders, screen actors, circus performers. 25 pound dumbbells were not to be found in everyday homes (or even exercise rooms). What the Edwardians did have, however, were light dumbbells like these—used to augment calisthenics or stretching regimens. A bit of extra weight (a couple of pounds) can make a difference in a prolonged jumping-jacks routine or regimen of "windmills" for the arms. Even if one doesn't intend to use these dumbbells...
The Lunar New Year festivities last for two weeks (and, of course, The Year of the Rabbit lasts all year). So let's share a few more rabbits over the next few days. This adorable bunny—a silver-plated wind-up music box—is haunched in concentration, licking his paws or planning what to do next. He plays "Rock-a-Bye, Baby." While the music box is meant as a gift for an infant, it's been even more popular as an interesting desk item for grownups (perhaps, especially, those born under The Year of the Rabbit). Click on the photo above to learn more about him. Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our...
Whether you're fresh-in from the slopes, or have spent the whole afternoon sipping cider in the lodge, a nice Christmassy ski sweater always fits-the-bill. This little fellow, made of faux mohair, has felt pads for paws and jointed, posable limbs. And, of course, that jolly, red snowflake sweater paired with black velour shorts. Add him to your Holiday guest list.
God willing—by tonight—the 2022 Senate Election will have been concluded. The Great State of Georgia holds its Senate run-off election today. I'm hoping for a decisive win by a wide margin. Please, no more "eleven thousand . . . seven hundred . . . eighty" vote differentials. With this election wrapped-up, the Senate can get back to work. And we can all look-forward to 2024 (or whichever year that campaign kicks-off). The wooden donkey toy, shown above, has articulated joints, wheels-for-feet, and its original curdled black paint. I'm not sure if his expression is a smirk or a grimace. But I do know that your favorite Democrat will display him with pride.
It's "Cyber Monday." Of all the manufactured "holidays," this one seems particularly crass, to me. Particularly manufactured. Particularly self-serving. And, although I do make (part of) my living by selling on-line, I cannot bring myself to cheerlead the event. Instead, I will find and present the oldest, "least-techie" toy in my possession—no screens, no electricity, no internet connection. It's an early 19th century wooden cradle, made to hold a little doll, fastened with old, square nails. Which makes me think: how many modern toys last 200 years? I have mobile phones and laptops which are obsolete after 15 years! For those who cannot help themselves, have a Happy Cyber Monday.
To cultivate an "attitude of gratitude" is to make the best of life. It certainly makes a person more attractive. And it may even improve one's health. It certainly makes one feel better! For what am I thankful? My faith. My health. My family, husband and dog (Benji). And the loyal LEO Design customers who have allowed me to pursue this unique and wonderful vocation—seeking and acquiring Handsome Gifts and home furnishings which bring pleasure and beauty to my customers' homes. Tomorrow is Black Friday, the traditional start of the Retail Holiday Season. I will continue to share more new items with you—as I find them—and endeavor to ship promptly to get them to you in-time for the Holidays. Happy Thanksgiving!
Interestingly, the traditional British card game, Cribbage, is a fun and popular pastime amongst U.S. submariners. The playing pieces are nicely compact and easy to store. And the social and intellectual engagement required must help relieve the tension of living in cramped, submerged quarters. World War II era submariner, Rear Admiral Dick O'Kane, was a cribbage aficionado and, today, his personal cribbage board is kept in the "wardroom" (commissioned officers' mess) of the oldest submarine assigned to the Pacific Fleet. Should the oldest ship be decommissioned, the board is to be transferred to the next oldest ship. The first known rules for cribbage were published in England in 1662, however, the game evolved from the older game, "Noddy," developed in the 1500's. Cribbage...
Let's end our "Symphony in Black & White" with this pair of English tin penguins—hand painted into their black and white tuxedoes. Created as a children's toys in the Twenties or Thirties—perhaps as members of a circus, zoo or ark menagerie—these tin animals would have usually experienced hard wear in the unforgiving hands of a youngster. Now, approaching their tenth decade, they are an elegant and whimsical reminder of a time gone by, when children's toys did not require batteries or wifi service.
Art meets engineering meets intriguing plaything. This finely-engineered and beautifully sculpted "toy" could stand-alone as an objet d'art on your desk. It would certainly make a nice (and heavy) paperweight. But it is also a puzzle; its meticulously-honed solid brass members assemble into the geometric shape you see above. Made in Brooklyn, this little work of art will prove hard to resist. Visitors to your office will be unable to not pick it up!
Our little "Ski Lodge Teddy" wants to join you on the slopes! Send for him. He's ready to go! Every year, since 1995, I have selected one Holiday Bear for the season—a different bear every year. The gang always "awaited adoption" in a giant, old pickle crock, near the shop's front door. Usually, not long after Christmas, the last little bear would be picked-up and taken home. This year, we're joined by this little guy. He wears a knitted ski sweater—red and white—and black velvet shorts. His posable limbs add dynamic character while his helpless little face adds irresistible wistfulness.
The Autumn's chill is starting to descend, and soon we'll all be pulling-out our comfy sweaters. This faux mohair teddy bear—with posable limbs and head—wears a knitted chenille sweater in navy blue, white and red. He's a youngster, unfamiliar with the ways of the seasons, so he doesn't realize he'll be heading into hibernation soon. Perhaps he'll find a good (warm) home before that—and a friend to keep him company during the long, dark winter.
Today—at long last—the world re-enters the zodiac sun sign of LEO, after a long eleven month wait. And what an eleven months it has been! Additionally, tonight, we will also experience a full moon, known as a "Buck Moon" since this is the time of year when male deer are found in fullest antler. In truth, I'm not a very superstitious person, and I only enjoy astrology to the extent that the different signs really do seem to describe the personalities (and idiosyncrasies) of the twelve group members. Perhaps the best reason I have for acknowledging the zodiac is that fate has granted me such a good (and flattering) birth sign: LEO!
We've just reached the mid-point of Winter in Australia. Forecasts call for a low of 50º F in Melbourne today—a temperature many would relish during the depths of Winter's chill. This hand-painted tin kangaroo was made in the 1920's or 1930's as a collectable toy for a small child. Like many Australians, he was made in England before leaving for sunnier shores. Maybe he was part of a larger collection, for example, a collection of "zoo animals" or "circus creatures." But he's single (at the moment) and waiting to find a new home. Please click on the photo above to learn more about him.
Long before the Beatles confounded music-mystery cryptologists with their 1967 psychedelic psalm, this little toy walrus delighted a child between the world wars. He was made in England of cast tin and was nicely hand-painted. Perhaps he was part of a larger group—a collection of wild creatures, zoo animals, or the passengers on Noah's Ark—a menagerie now since scattered around the world.
While the extreme heat blazes in the Pacific Northwest, here in the East we've been granted a reprieve from our recent high temps. Last night the temperature dipped to 57º—a remarkable blessing when it's been so hot lately. In fact, I had to get up in the middle of the night to (partially) close the bedroom window. America prays that the devastating hot weather lifts and that people in the West pass-through this awful chapter of weather history. Some high-level emissions remediation would also be a big help. Hot as it is down here, these playful penguins are keeping cool (in style). The pair is made of hand-painted cast tin—made in England in the 1920's or 1930's—and would have been a...
My gym membership has been re-instated today—after months of mandated closures, suspensions, more closures and freezes. But the inevitable has finally arrived: I gotta get moving! Gratefully, I did not contract the real coronavirus. But, alas, in my own way, I had a brush with the other Covid Nineteen (or was moving in that general direction)—and now want to drop those pounds. By today's standards, these wooden dumbbells don't make the grade. They only weigh a couple of pounds each, if that, and were probably used originally to augment calisthenics—not for serious weight resistance exercise. But they are heavy with character. And they're a good reminder that it's time to get moving!
When I was a young boy, my father had a modest boat, a 13' Boston Whaler. Every weekend, it seemed, he would take me out into Kaneohe Bay from which one is treated to one of the most beautiful views on Earth. We would motor out to the sandbar and I would look down at (what my dad called) "the sea snakes" in the shallow water. (I think they were probably sea cucumbers.) Despite the great adventure, I never really liked going out in that boat. Perhaps I was too young to appreciate the opportunity. I hated the gas fumes from the portable fuel tank. The salty orange-canvas life jacket scratched my burning neck. The violent chop-chop-chop across the water was...
Didn't this all end? Nine weeks ago? Nevertheless, the drama enters its Seventh Act. Can the curtain call be very far away? Tomorrow, Georgia voters will decide which party will dominate the Senate, furthermore determining the fate of the nation for the next two years. We're counting on you, Georgia! On Wednesday, certain legislators in Washington will mount their well-rehearsed Kabuki performance—big on noise and drama, but ultimately meaningless. Give this cuddly bear a tight squeeze and soldier-on through the next two days. Click on his photo, above, if you'd like to learn more about him.
Yesterday, just before Noon (US Eastern Time), the election was called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The POD (Party of Democracy) will take the White House in January! There's a chance that the losing side, the GOP, will attempt to confuse the legitimacy of the results or sue-their-way to delaying the awarding of office. This could have terrible results for the nation; in the midst of a pandemic, it's important that a new administration is brought-in by the outgoing administration in order to come-up to speed before Inauguration Day. May "The Good of the Nation" become everyone's greatest goal.
Oy! Exactly one more month to go! On 3 November, the voting will have ended and the counting will have begun. Within a week or two of that, most of the ballots should have been counted and The American Will should be known. Until then, we must bear things as best we can. I received my Pennsylvania ballot today, Saturday, and will mail-it-back on Monday. I plan to drop it into the interior lobby slot of my local post office. If you haven't yet, VOTE! Whether you vote by mail, vote early in-person, or vote at the polls on Election Day, your voice is critical. It's true, one lone voice can appear powerless. But, when combined with the voices of...
Brrrr, it's cold outside! And I always find January weather most un-redeeming. A crisp (even cold) December adds to the Christmas joviality. But, come 1 January, I'm ready for the warmth. Alas, we still have months to go... This little teddy bear is well-prepared for the weather! Over his (faux mohair) fur, he wears a little knitted sweater and woolly twill pants. He has poseable limbs and an adorably helpless expression. Click on the photo above to learn more about him. 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...
This "Prince-in-Waiting"—warts and all—is, indeed, rather handsome. He is silver-plated and plays "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Though intended as a baby gift, he will be just as popular sitting on an adult's desk. Click on the photo above to learn more about him. Another "hidden prince" tomorrow. 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
Who can resist a pair of "Puppy Eyes"? This little fella will be picked-up a lot—delighting the curious with his wind-up musicality. This little spaniel pup plays "Brahms's Lullaby" and looks adorable while playing it. Though a baby gift, adults seem helpless under his spell. Click on the photo above to learn more about him. 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
Easter is about seven months away—yet our collection of cuddly bunnies already are awaiting their cue. Let's end our three day parade of rabbits and hares—all ready to hop your way—with this adorable little creature. Our precious silver-plated baby bunny is actually a wind-up music box which plays "Rock-a-Bye Baby." Though intended as a baby gift, he is better left in the hands of a careful adult. But his classic tune may help a little one drift-off at bedtime. He'd also be a favorite plaything on an executive desk or coffee table. Click on the photo above to learn more about him. Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit...
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"
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 […]
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 […]
A great (and handsome) gift for the (one day) boat owner in your circle—a set of 26 nautical blocks which display the letter, the NATO alpha-phonetic code, the semaphore signal, the maritime flag which symbolizes each letter and the morse code. All merchandise (in-store or on-line) is now (at least) 25% off—making it the perfect […]
Our cast bronze Rocketman has just touched-down—and climbed-down from his cast aluminum rocketship (which is also a bank!). The space ship has the early Twentieth Century riveted look of a Jules Verne travel craft. It will make a nice aesthetic statement in any modern or vintage setting. And it provides a great place to start […]
Six days to go. Feeling puzzled? I am. It’s not so much a matter of not knowing who to support; I fell-in behind my 2016 candidate eight years ago—during the tearful “Roll Call of States” at my party’s summer Convention in Denver. I haven’t wavered or even thought twice about who I would support the […]
I’m in England this week, on the hunt for Handsome Gifts for the Holidays. I’m always happy to find complete sets of vintage pub dominoes—like the set above. Made of plied bone and ebonywood, they would have helped pub mates while away the hours in friendly competition. They’d be perfect for your post-Holiday family gatherings—and […]
Every year, in preparation for the Holiday season, I select and order a single stuffed bear to sell in the shop through the autumn and Holiday seasons. I’ve done this for twenty-one years—with a slight modification last year when I found a stuffed lion to commemorate our twentieth anniversary. Shown above, this year’s Holiday teammate—who […]
Can the summer be so far away? It starts one month from today. But the time will fly past when you’re playing with with these clever nautical wooden blocks! Each block depicts a letter from the English alphabet plus that letter’s Morse Code signal, flag semaphore signal, International maritime signal flag and the NATO phonetic designation […]
Every year I find a single stuffed animal—usually a teddy bear—and he becomes that year’s “Holiday Bear.” We pile a bunch of them into a large ceramic pickle crock, right next to the front door, and keep selling them until they’re gone. Last Christmas, in honor of LEO Design’s twentieth anniversary, I selected a different […]
I’m on-the-road this week, replenishing the shop after a busy Holiday season. One of my new finds is the trio of British tin elephants, shown above. Made in England in the 1930’s, they were likely part of some child’s circus menagerie—during those special years between the wars. They are nicely cast, hand-painted, and have the […]
A happy Independence Day to all! Shown above, a set of printed, wooden blocks—one for each American president—detailing various facts about each man and his term. Screen-printed in child-safe, no-toxic inks, the blocks will form an American flag when turned the right way. They sit in a convenient wooden tray. $125. Please come into the […]
Is there any number more-eagerly looked-forward to? In some ways, a perfect number: twice 9, half 36. And what young person doesn’t dream of someday reaching this milestone? A few “highlights” of the eighteenth number: • Civil War victor general, Ulysses S. Grant, was the 18th U.S. president. • In ancient Rome, 18 represented a blood […]
Lest you worry that all the fun of the Holiday Season is now over, here’s a little pick-me-up: a turned wooden “Skittles” set, beautifully aged over the last 90 years. Played in living rooms and back yards, it’s bound to turn your next gathering into a jolly evening, indeed. This set of ten painted pins […]
Today is the first day of Winter. And this Christmas is our Twentieth in the neighborhood. Each year, I select one great Teddy Bear to be our Holiday Mascot—and he awaits adoption in a pickle crock at the shop’s front door. This year, I’ve decided to celebrate our twenty year milestone with a lion, instead. […]
Today I am in London, making a last-minute push to find more Handsome Gifts for your Holiday giving. Over the past twenty years, I have befriended many collectors of the kinds of things I love. Interestingly, many of these relationships began when these people were customers in my shop; today, I am more likely to […]
What are you doing reading this? Go out and vote! Today is Election Day. Exercise your most important right as an American; go to the polls! Thank you. Shown above, a set of Presidential Wooden Blocks. Each cube presents a different U.S. president and includes interesting facts about his life and time in office. Made […]
Something new: beautifully-crafted, lathe-turned brass tops in three different designs. A solid block of heavy brass is mounted to a lathe, spun, and “carved-down” into the shapes shown above. Modern, yes, though definitely classic. The quality and craftsmanship is immediately apparent the moment one of the tops is picked-up and handled. With a little practice, […]
Previously sold-out, we’ve just received a shipment of wooden Presidential Blocks—an interesting and nicely-crafted gift for children or adults. Laser-carved and printed with non-toxic inks (and made in America!), each block bears a portrait of a president, the years of his term(s), the location of his birth and death, his party, and the sequence number […]
Happy Fourth of July! LEO Design will be open today from Noon ’til 6:00 pm. We’d be happy to see you! Shown above, a set of American-made, hand-crafted wooden blocks—decorated with a nautical theme. Laser cut and printed in non-toxic inks, these blocks show nautical flags, semaphore signaling, morse code signals, letters of the alphabet, […]
Henry Hudson was an English explorer who, at different times, worked for English or Dutch merchants, attempting to find them a shorter trade route to Asia. The elusive “Northwest Passage”—an Arctic Circle seaway which could link Europe and the Orient—was believed to exist, though had not yet been discovered by European seamen. Henry Hudson made […]
Today is “Black Friday” and we’d like to report: . LEO Design is not opening early. . LEO Design will not manufacture any “Door Buster” stampede. . LEO Design will be here—as always—to serve its customers (old and new). As a concession to the season, perhaps […]