In Black & White - III


Abingdon Art Deco Horsehead Ceramic Bookends with Satin White Glazing (LEO Design)


As we straddle the seasons—that unpredictable period between Winter and Spring—let us shine a little light on another sensory counterpoint: the interplay of black and white.  Over the next few days, we'll share part of our collection of black, white and black & white merchandise—all for sale in our on-line store.

The Abingdon Sanitary Manufacturing Company was founded in 1908 in Knoxville, Illinois.  The company quickly distinguished itself by making superior "sanitary ware," that is toilets, sinks and water fountains.  Their high-quality clay blend (from England, Georgia and South Dakota) resulted in a very durable product.  Their satin glazes were also beautiful; Abingdon was the first plumbing fixture manufacturer to produce color-glazed options (in 1928).  Abingdon was tapped to produce all the plumbing fixtures for the Chicago World's Fair in 1933.

But the Depression—and WWII to follow—was not easy on the building trades.  Orders for sinks and toilets (ummm...) went down the drain.  In the late 1930's, Abingdon made the dramatic decision to begin crafting small, decorative and gift items.  Using the same superb clay mix which they used in their plumbing fixtures (and the same kilns and artisans), Abingdon was able to keep afloat during the lean years by making the kind of cheerful and affordable items which people would still (and wanted to) buy when times were tough.  Come 1950, once the post-war building boom arrived, Abingdon discontinued making the novelty items and returned to the production of superior plumbing fixtures.

The horse head bookends, shown above, have the heavy weight and gravitas of a quality plumbing fixture.  The satin white glaze is sublime—both to the eye and to the touch.  They can be used to hold books or would look terrific displayed as sculptural objets d'art.  Click on the photo above to learn more about them.

More Black & White offerings 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 (

We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques ( or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248