Antique Bookends Are Collectible
by: Michael O'Brien
In an age of mass production, more and more people are into collecting especially decorative bookends. From baseball cards and various types of memorabilia, things that were once old are new again. We have all heard the stories of someone finding a valuable piece of artwork at a garage sale. This lends credence to the old adage that one persons junk is another persons prize. This is no less true for the humble bookend.
There appears to be a robust market in collectible bookends. The decorative bookend was once a staple in many homes. In the days before electronic mass media, reading was by far a favorite form of relaxation and education. Personal collections of books were often a reflection a persons depth of knowledge and interest. Bookends served as a functional way to keep ones literary collection in order but also served a decorative purpose.
Several factors go into determining the value of an old bookend. Age is certainly important but like old coins, the true value may hinge on what the bookend is made of, who made it and what it represents. Limited edition replicas of all kinds can be of recent vintage, but the scarcity of the item may add to its value. As with any collectible item, value is often determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it.
The term collectible really has several meanings. There are folks who place a value on items that reflect a particular theme like sports or a favorite hobby. The term is also used to describe those items that have accumulated value because of age. Like many sculpted items, the notoriety of the artist who created the piece may influence its importance as a collectible. Another key factor in determining the value of an antique or collectible bookend is the material from which it was made.
It was not uncommon for bookends to be made from bronze, brass or solid marble. Bookends made of solid pewter and silver plate were common around the turn of the twentieth century. There has always been a decorative use for bookends, mostly as accents for a theme. As the years have passed, and fewer people kept personal collections of books, bookends lost some of their utility. It was not uncommon for out of work bookends to find new uses as doorstops and other mundane functions.
Like many staples of gone by eras, some bookends found themselves stashed in an attic or otherwise disposed of. The solid bronze African elephant bookends that once sold for a few dollars in the nineteen twenties could be worth a few hundred dollars today.
Like collectible pottery and glass, the value of antique bookends may be tied to a particular manufacturer. In the early nineteen hundreds, the New Martinsville Glass Company in West Virginia produced a line sculpted glass bookends that are quite rare today. Figurines from MI Hummel have long been a favorite among collectors of fine china figures. Intricate in design and hand crafted, Hummel also produced a line of bookends that can sell for many hundred of dollars.
As with anything labeled collectible, the best advice is always buyer beware. An item may be collectible for the standpoint of popularity. Fans of stock car racing and other sports may collect items of interest. In that context, the term collectible merely indicates a generally high demand for something. Someone may buy an item today in the hopes that it will, someday rise in value. Now there is nothing wrong with speculating on the future, but if you want to own a truly unique piece of history, consider antique collectible bookends.
About the Author
Michael O'Brien is a writer for many popular websites.