Presented is a vintage set of brass bookends from the early 20th century featuring a spreadwing eagle. Fashioned after the Great Seal, the eagle holds a laurel branch and bundle of arrows clutched in its talons. The eagle has a Union shield across its breast. The Union shield has a chief with thirteen stars and eleven stripes completing the design. In the eagle’s beak is a waving banner that reads “E Pluribus Unum.” The bookends' details are further accentuated by hand-painted details.
These bookends were made by Hubley Manufacturing Co. Hubley was founded in 1894 in Lancaster, PA and specialized in the manufacture of cast-iron toys and toy banks. In the early 1920s, the company expanded their line to include decorative sand-cast bookends, which were made until World War II.
The eagle motif in décor and folk art has been widely used throughout our nation's history, most notably as part of our Great Seal. The founders of the United States were fond of comparing their new republic with the Roman Republic, in which eagle imagery, usually the golden eagle, was prominent. On June 20, 1782, the Continental Congress adopted the design for the Great Seal of the United States depicting a bald eagle grasping 13 arrows and an olive branch with its talons.
“E Pluribus Unum” in Latin translates to "Out of many, one." “E Pluribus Unum” is a 13-letter traditional motto of the United States of America, also appearing on the Great Seal. The phrase suggests that out of many states, or colonies, emerges a single nation. Pierre Eugene du Simitiere suggested the 13-letter motto in 1776 to the committee of the Continental Congress responsible for developing the Great Seal. At the time of the American Revolution, the exact phrase appeared prominently on the title page of every issue of a popular periodical, The Gentleman's Magazine.
Good condition, especially considering age and use. Some scuffs and light scratches. Hand-painted details. Paint is vibrant and still mostly intact. Previous repair to one bookend at middle of one wing. Set is sturdy and heavy enough to hold a large set of books. Dimensions: 7 1/4" H x 5 1/4" W x 2" D.