Summer Reading


Bronze-Plated "Naughty Dachshund" Bookends by Philadelphia Manufacturing (LEO Design)


Summer's here—the heat, the humidity, the bugs—and, boy am I glad that I will not be traveling this holiday weekend!  Instead, I'll pretty much carry-on with my regular routine: clean and shoot new merchandise, organize the papers on my desk, maybe wash and vacuum my car.  And one more thing!  I'll try to spend a few hours reading during the day.  At the moment, I have two books-in-process on my nightstand (atop two dozen more, yet to be started).  The only problem is that I read at night, after climbing into bed.  I can usually get through a couple of pages before I find myself getting drowsy, reading and re-reading (and re-reading) the same line over and over (and over) again.  With this reading strategy, it takes me a long time to finish any book.  I'm also not sure that I am doing the author any favors.

One of my current reads is Young Mungo by the Scottish (American) writer, Douglas Stuart.  I'm about 50 pages in (three weeks worth of night reading) and have yet to be captured.  The word-smithing is beautiful.  Admittedly, I have always found "writing in dialect" to feel like wading through wet cement.  The characters in this book speak with their thick Glaswegian accents, which may be happy news for Stuart's Glaswegian readers.  But not much has happened, yet (three characters have spent the first 50 pages taking three different busses to a remote fishing spot).  I know that I usually prefer plot-driven books—physical motion, people interacting—more than I appreciate long narrations of "interior thought."  (This rule is my preference in opera, as well.  A good Tosca will always delight me more than a lovely Arabella.  Call me a Philistine.)   But I'll continue to give the book time.  Douglas Stuart's previous book (which I have not read, yet) won the Booker Prize.  I also have to admit that I felt the same way (initially) about Jamie O'Neil's At Swim, Two Boys which tortured me with an impenetrable  Dubliner Dialect (for 100 pages) until the story opened-up and I fell in love with the characters and the book.  (Immediately after reading the final page, I turned to the first page and began reading the book again!)  So, gentle reader, stand by for further updates on Young Mungo.

The other (in-progress) book on my nightstand is Erich Maria Remarque's masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front.  Currently I am taking a course on "The Great War" through Carnegie Mellon University's Osher program.  Since the coming week's session is postponed (for Independence Day), I have decided to spend the two weeks re-reading my browning paperback copy from my freshman year in college (Forty... One... Years... Ago?).  I would not deign to provide any analysis of this monument to humanity.  Let me just say, I was charmed to find my childish signature (I was 18) waiting for me inside the paperback's cover.

The bookends, shown above, capture a "naughty dachshund" tearing-through his summer reading list.  The Mid-Century bookends, made in the 1970's, are brass-plated over some other non-ferrous metal.  I'm leaning toward spelter, however they are heavier than most spelter and do not have that tell-tale "thud" one hears when tapping spelter.  They may be a bronze alloy.  The maker, Philadelphia Manufacturing, was founded in 1911.  They made cast bronze hardware, mountings and other ornamentation for caskets and related funerary items.  After World War II, the company expanded production to include bookends.  In 1970, the company relocated to Florida, where these bookends were made.  Click on the photo above to learn more about these charming bookends.


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