In 1894, John E. Hubley opened a metal casting workshop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His product line was metal industrial parts for electric trains. Come 1909, finding that business was slack, Hubley converted his production to cast iron toys and home furnishings objets: animals (especially dogs), bookends (many of them dogs), and doorstops (more dogs). Hubley also cast vehicles—from horse-drawn carriages (earlier on) to scale model automobiles (later in the company's life). At its peak, Hubley was the largest metal toy manufacturer in the United States.
The terrier doorstop, shown above, is composed of two separate sand-cast iron parts (the left side of the dog's body and the right side of the dog's body). Each dog began its life as two hand-carved wooden forms (one for each side). These forms would be pressed-down into a tray of sticky industrial sand, which would leave a detailed impression of the dog (in the sand) after they were removed. Then, molten iron (at 3000° F) would be poured into the impression in the sand and allowed to cool—adopting the shape of the sand-mould. Once cold, the iron pieces were cleaned off (using files and sandpaper) to remove any burrs, irregularities or bits of sand. The dog was then painted in cream and sent to a "colorist" who would hand-paint the highlight details on the animal.
A dog like this would have stood guard at an interior door, holding it open. I purchased it from an elderly woman who got it from her grandmother (who might have bought it new in the Twenties). 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