Found the other day in New Hampshire, I thing these are interesting, and quite beautiful, too. The scallop shaped bookends feature 1853 engravings (one exterior one interior) of the Hippodrome on Madison Square (known as Franconi's Hippodrome), which appear to have been trimmed from the original prints, mounted to wood and varnished over, looking now very much like the surfaces of early lacquered snuff boxes. Franconi's Hippodrome opened May 2, 1853 (not to be confused with the later venue the Hippodrome Theatre or New York Hippodrome, built in 1905 in the Theater District) and was a elliptical shaped structure modeled after the "Roman Circus" with a seating capacity of 10,000 people. The structure was covered with a red, white and blue canvas and was in many ways the precursor to the modern circus, especially those with a "Big Top" and multiple rings. It only lasted 2 years, with its final performance on November 12, 1855, featuring General Tom Thumb (made famous by P.T. Barnum) and a menagerie.
Each measures 7 5/8 x 5 5/8 x 4 1/4 d. I think these have quite a bit of age to them--there is craquelure and a wonderful warmth to the varnished surfaces--perhaps with the bookend bases added later. The back of the wood was painted a mellow gold it looks like over red. There is a bit of give between the wood and bases, which are nailed into the bottom edge of the wood, no real matter.