Here is Sam Spade’s familiar “dingus,” bundled in vintage Chinese-language newspapers. As it should be. Because as anyone who’s seen The Maltese Falcon knows, the dingus—a jewel-encrusted, black-enamel-covered statuette of a falcon—arrived (on the La Paloma) from Hong Kong. But what’s remarkable is that this particular black bird, a to-scale falcon made by Tom Casesa, is only an inch high, which makes those to-scale newspapers it’s wrapped in … well, you’re definitely going to need your (full-size) reading glasses.
Casesa is a miniaturist—only by avocation, as good as he is. He was raised in Howard Beach, Queens, a third-generation-Italian son of a donut baker. Some years ago he left a corporate career (Lehman Brothers, Tiffany) and “sterile white box” of an Upper East Side apartment for the more creative environment of a West Village studio. “I was depressed. I was just doing numbers and figures,” he said. “So I started building things.”