Antique bronze-clad alchemist with skull bookends by Marion Bronze circa 1922
Use this pair of alchemists to transmute your drab fantasy books into an awe-inspiring collection. Although the official Wretched Relics interpretation of these is "alchemist with skull," the original title is unknown. Perhaps the man is a philosopher, a scientist, or even a necromancer. Make of him what you will.
These bookends are in excellent condition for being nearly a century old. There is a subtle dent in one of the hands, as shown in the pictures. The paint has chipped in a few tiny spots on the skulls, there are some spots of discoloration on the heads, and the felt on the bottoms has probably been replaced at some point. Really, these have just the right amount of wear and tear for antiques.
Marion Bronze cast these using the electroforming method around 1922, when the company was founded in Metuchen, New Jersey. They are unsigned, as is common for Marion Bronze's early work. Fortunately, a former employee of Marion Bronze abandoned his large collection of the company's products, which has enabled collectors to identify a number of them.
The electroforming process went roughly as follows. First, the manufacturer would create a plaster cast of the master sculpture and spray it with an electrically conductive coating. Then, they would hang the cast in a tank of plating solution while running an electric current through it via a wire in its base. Over the course of several days the cast would build up a coating of bronze. Then the manufacturer would remove the product from the tank and apply the finishing touches. The hallmark of electroformed bronze is the indentation in the product's base where the wire was severed. You can feel the indentation through the felt on these.
Each bookend is about 4 1/4" wide, 7" tall, and 3 1/2" deep. Together they weigh about 7 3/4 pounds.