Black & White Chic

Abingdon Art Deco Ceramic Horsehead Bookends with Mirror Black Glaze (LEO Design)


While watching The Graduate for the umpteenth time, I was reminded just how popular (and chic) Black & White interiors were in Mid-Century America.  When I was a young boy, we had an ultra stylish neighbor down the street.  One of the neighborhood kids informed me that she was a divorcée.  Her daughter was a classmate and, on rare occasion, I was invited into their house.  Her mother had decorated much of the house—including the living room (which we were never allowed to enter)—in Mid-Century Modern Black and White.  Somehow, I began to associate Black & White interiors with "fast living" (whatever that meant to an eight year old boy).  This notion was confirmed, years later, the first time I saw The Graduate.  Mrs. Robinson's stunning Black & White patio, punctuated with slashes of green, was made for the kind of dangerous woman about whom I had been cautioned.

These ceramic Art Deco bookends were made by Abingdon (Knoxville, Illinois) in the Thirties or Forties.  Abingdon's main business was high-quality porcelain sinks, water fountains and toilets.  But, during the Depression, Abingdon branched-out (for a few years) making decorative giftware: vases, bowls, bookends.  For these smaller objects, Abingdon used their same, extra-durable clay, finished with their standard, silky-chic glazes.  Once the Depression passed, and Americans resumed building new houses (requiring sinks and toilets), Abingdon returned to making those higher-ticket items for which they were already famous.

Click on the photo above to learn more about them.  Mrs. Robinson (and my boyhood neighbor) would be pleased.


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 Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Antique Center of Strabane (

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