We celebrate the first few days of LEO with a "parade" of leonine beauties—now in-stock at LEO Design.
Most tin or spelter or lead animals (painted or unpainted) from the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries were part of a larger grouping of animals: a circus, a farm, a zoo, or a Noah's Ark menagerie. This lion, handsome though he is, remains circumspect about discussing his former companions—who are now, sadly, lost to time and playful trauma (at least to us). The painting on this lion is pretty good. Quality of painting is one of the hallmarks by which one can gauge how well-made a toy sculpture is. It helps to remember that these creatures were intended as toys—and liable to be roughly handled—and, therefore, most casting and painting were cursory, at best. Fast production and minimal finishing resulted in less expensive toys for the kiddos.
The reason I am uncertain about in which "grouping" this lion might have begun his life (in the Twenties or Thirties) is because he is shown climbing a mountainous rock. Were he part of a circus, zoo or Noah's Ark menagerie, he probably would not have been sculpted upon such a rocky base (which would make it awkward to assemble the animals together). And would all of the Ark creatures have been standing on their own bases? (Not likely.) Perhaps this lion is part of a "Wild Animals" assortment. Or, perhaps, he was always intended to stand alone—singular creature that he is. Click on the photo above to learn more about him.
More handsome LEOs tomorrow and in the days to come.
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