Judd Manufacturing got its start as a blacksmith foundry in New Britain, Connecticut during the Revolutionary War. It later reinventing itself as a harness maker, selling sleigh bells, saddles and other equestrian gear. Over the years, the company grew, changed hands within the family, and even split into two separate companies—one moving to Wallingford, CT and the other moving to New York City. In time, the New York City division prospered and bought-out the Connecticut factory. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Judd made decorative metalworks for household use: banks, doorstops, door-knockers, inkwells, animal sculptures and (most famously) bookends. The company was purchased by Stanley Works (New Britain, CT) in 1954.
This pair of Mucha-inspired Art Nouveau "bookends" is really an adjustable (sliding) book rack. Before the Twentieth Century, only aristocrats could afford a large collection of books. Most other people only had a modest collection: perhaps a Bible, a couple of books of poetry, and a cookbook. Middle class people (as we understand the term today) might be able to keep their small library on a book rack (or book trough) of about this size. As the Nineteenth Century became the Twentieth Century—and the middle class expanded—people spent some of their newly-found discretionary funds on books (which meant that they would soon need bookshelves and bookends). But this style of bookrack, a precursor to bookends, was more common before the Twentieth Century. It was made by Judd and you can learn more about it by clicking on the photo above.
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