Aluminum Chic

Art Deco Aluminum Scottie Bookends by Russel Studios, Chicago (LEO Design)


Skyscrapers!  Angles!  Silvery-shine!  This pair of bookends screams "Art Deco!"  They were made in the Thirties or Forties by Russel Studios (Chicago), cast of their "Silverlite" alloy—a blend of aluminum and zinc.

Aluminum has been used since the 5th Century BC.  It was especially important for dying fabrics and paint-making.  Although aluminum ore is plentiful, it still was enormously costly, due to the very complicated processes required to make it useable.  It was difficult to separate the pure aluminum from its compounds.  We are told that when Emperor Napoleon III of France (who reigned from 1852 to 1870) wanted to impress his dinner guests, he'd have the gold flatware removed and replaced with aluminum cutlery.   The six pound "cap" atop the Washington Monument (built in 1884) is aluminum.  Six pounds of silver would have been less costly.  

Various improvements in aluminum processing were made in the second half of the Nineteenth Century.  Most importantly was the inexpensive process developed by Charles Martin Hall in 1886 in Pittsburgh—which made the widespread use of aluminum affordable and practical.  Hall (and his business partners) would later found Alcoa, also in Pittsburgh.

Scotties were enormously popular—both as pets and as bookends—in the Thirties and Forties, thanks to President FDR and his beloved Scottie, Fala.  For this reason, antique Scottie bookends are quite plentiful.  But the extraordinary Art Deco platform, on which this Scottie stands, takes this pair to the next level.  Most bookends from the period are cast iron or bronze-clad; this pair is silvery aluminum.  And the architectural elements of the base and backdrop are reminiscent of the cutting-edge skyscrapers thrusting upwards in that period.  Click on the photo above to learn more about these handsome 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 Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Antique Center of Strabane (

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