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Penguin Bookends

Penguin Bookends  Bridgeport, about 1930 The Newman S. Hungerford Museum Fund, 2001.127.0a,bBridgeport, about 1930
The Newman S. Hungerford Museum Fund, 2001.127.0a,b

Jennings Brothers (JB) of Bridgeport was a long-standing Connecticut metal-working firm, in business from about 1892 until 1953. Production at JB required meticulous techniques that were not suitable for machines, depending instead on artists, sculptors, and metal craftsmen. JB’s finishing process included silver plating over cast gray metal, creating the illusion of solid bronze. This whimsical pair of penguin bookends was made by JB in the 1930s. Following Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic expeditions, which started in 1928, home decorations featuring penguins became popular in households across America. Today, these Art Deco classics continue to inspire retro ware by contemporary retailers.

Metal shortages caused by World War II eventually resulted in the redirection of JB production from fine-crafted metal ware to hubcaps for military trucks. Postwar imports of ceramic and plastic items drastically reduced the demand for metal home goods. The JB molds were eventually purchased by the Philadelphia Manufacturing Company in the 1960s.
Ladies Cycle Club

Susan B. Anthony once claimed, “The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world.” Bicycle riding was recommended as healthful exercise but would have been impossible in tight corsets and floor-length skirts. The loose-fitting trousers promoted by Amelia Bloomer had once been criticized as indecent, but the bicycle’s new popularity brought divided skirts and bloomers into mainstream fashion.