- Welcome to The Wise Collector
- Knowledge Changes Everything!
- Buyer Beware!
- Buyer Beware!: Part II
- Caring for Your Antiques
- Coin Collecting
- McCoy Pottery
- Chinese Export Porcelain
- Frankoma Pottery
- The Arts and Crafts Movement
- The Art Deco Period
- Susie Cooper Pottery
- Limoges China
- 18th C American Furniture Styles
- The Bauhaus School: Weimar 1919
- The Bauhaus School: Design & Architecture
- The End of a Century: Art Nouveau Style
- Biedermeier: The Comfortable Style
- The Souvenir Age
- A History of Ceramic Tiles
- Flow Blue China
- Collect Vintage Christmas Decorations
- An American Thanksgiving Through theYears
- How to Find an Antiques Appraiser
- Louis Prang, Father of the American Christmas Card
- Thomas Cook and the Grand Tours
- Harry Rinker's 25th Anniversary
- Mid-Century Modern
- Will Chintz China become Popular Again?
- Ireland's Waterford Crystal
- Vintage Wicker and Rattan
- Fishing Gear Collecting
- Bennington Pottery
- Identifying Pottery and Ceramic Marks
- The Art of Needlework in the Arts & Crafts Era
- The Delicious World of Vintage Cookbooks
- BLOG: RANDOM THOUGHTS
- E-BOOKS BY BARBARA BELL
- First Reader Consulting
The Roycroft Heritage
You may not be as familiar with the name "Roycroft" if you live outside the United States, but it was both an outgrowth of the anti-Machine Age sentiment which began in England with Charles Rennie Macintosh and William Morris, and a distinct cultural phenomenon of its own.
Its founder and spiritual leader was Elbert Hubbard. The Roycrofters were active from 1895 to 1938, and these artisans, much like Morris' circle, produced illustrated hand-bound books, Mission-style furniture, lamps, metal ware of black iron, copper and bronze, as well as glass, ceramics and leather. The furniture was mostly oak with hand-forged hinges, handles and decorative but functional hardware. Hubbard selected the name Roycroft in honor of the 17th century printers Samuel and Thomas Roycroft. The Roycroft insignia was borrowed from the monk Cassidorius, a 13th century bookbinder and illuminator.
The construction style of Roycroft furniture uses high-quality wood joined by pegs, pins and mortise-and-tenon joints. A 1904 Roycroft furniture catalog states that the workers' aim in making furniture was to embody three elements in each piece: simplicity of design, the highest quality of workmanship and durability.
Hubbard formed a community, the Roycroft Campus, in East Aurora, New York (near Buffalo) where its member-artisans enjoyed lectures and concerts. At the height of Royroft's success several hundred workers produced beautiful household items which were much sought after all over the United States.
A successful salesman for the Larkin soap company in Buffalo, Elbert Hubbard became dissatisfied with his life and sold his share in the company. He briefly entered and then dropped out of Harvard, and then went to England, where he met William Morris and was introduced to the philosophy and esthetics of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Returning to his home, Hubbard began publishing his own writing which soon captured a growing readership. His works included A Message to Garcia, and two monthly magazines, The Fra and The Philistine. His lecture tours took him all over the United States.
Hubbard and his wife were enroute to England for another lecture tour when they were among those lost aboard the Lusitania. Although his son continued the Roycroft legacy with some success, the changing American taste led to the closing of the Roycroft workshops in 1938.
You can read much more of Hubbard's life and writings, including A Message to Garcia, at The Roycrofter Webpage, which captures and spreads the Roycroft philosophy in a delightful and eccentric fashion.
The popularity of Elbert Hubbard's publications brought many visitors to the East Aurora community, and a hotel was built to accommodate them. Here the simple, sturdy Roycroft furniture was showcased to a ready-made clientele. The ubiquitous style soon filled America's homes, public schools and office buildings.
Other websites of interest include:
Dard Hunter, Roycroft's most famous artist and designer, is chronicled at this site.
The Arts & Crafts Society - page on the Roycrofters.
Web Hosting by iPage. The copyright of the articles in The Wise Collector is owned by Barbara Nicholson Bell. Permission to republish any articles herein online or in print must be granted by the author in writing.