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Arts & Crafts on Ebay, February

Lots of neat stuff on Ebay right now, but for the love of God, please people, stop trying to get hits on your old junk by suggesting that a hammered-copper cowboy hat ashtray may be Roycroft when you know perfectly well that it ain't. Or something named as a "Stickley magazine rack" that certainly isn't (further down the seller says 'no marks to suggest that it is but it certainly fits the styling...' - sure. We call this kind of misleading labeling "hit whoring," and it's not a very honest or nice thing to do. This guy even admits that it's signed "K&Co." but insists on labeling the auction "Roycroft?" - how kind.

but nice A&C furniture and decorative items don't need to be signed or big-name to be pretty.

Greene & Greene at the Huntington Library

Ted Wells of Living : Simple passes on this tidbit:

Starting February 23, four Greene & Greene pieces from the Dr. William T. Bolton house will be on display at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California: The entry hall table, the two entry side chairs (the exquisite, tall, Mackintosh-like designs), and the Barlow Bush curio cabinet. This is the first time these four pieces have been together since they left the Bolton house. It is incredible to see how the pieces visually interact when displayed as they were meant to be seen by the Greene's. This display will be at the Huntington Library until June 30, 2006.

The Thorsen library table (not the dining table) is the piece that is joining the Victoria & Albert Museum's International Arts & Crafts exhibit opening at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. If you did not travel to London to see this exhibit, and you will be near the Bay Area anytime before June 30, it is worth seeing this show. In addition to the Thorsen pieces, there are other G&G objects on display including the Blacker House breakfast room hanging light and a Blacker arm chair, along with hundreds of Arts & Crafts objects from around the world.

Also: it's a long way off, but the Huntington will also present The Architecture and Decorative Arts of Charles and Henry Greene from October 2008 to January 2009.

Welcome PrairieMod

Newly-established Prairie style weblog Prairie Mod (dob: February 18) promises lots of good stuff on Prairie design and architecture:

Welcome to PrairieMod. This site represents a chance for me to expose the world to the newest ideas in a movement I and my circle of cohorts like to refer to as Prairie/Modern (aka PrairieMod). It's the 21st century re-examination into the ideas and ideals of the Praire School and the Arts and Crafts Movement (with a little Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Bauhaus thrown in for zest). I'll be posting my thoughts and explorations in conjunction with book reviews, merchandise finds and anything else that catches my fancy. Expect to see a fair amount devoted to the works of Frank Lloyd Wright and other Prairie School artists and architects. Feel free to post your feedback and let me know what you think!

Sonoma Woodworks

This is one version (vertical queen) of a neat Craftsman faux-armoire murphy bed made by Sonoma Woodworks in Sebastopol. Click on the image to see a larger picture and read the full product description.

Beating Craftsman Style Into Submission

Here's a real estate agent selling a 1906 Hillsborough brown shingle that was supposedly "inspired by the atelier of Bernard Maybeck." The house has obviously been remodeled several times, as very little externally (and practically nothing internally, at least as far as the photographs show) looks even remotely Maybeckian. There's a sort of Queen Anne vs. Craftsman thing going on with some of the Victorian cottage glass and the curved portico. And the inside - I'm crying for what it must have been. It is, today, the most banal and generic (and totally non-Craftsman) guts I've ever seen picked to replace what was probably interesting, quirky and maybe actually inspired by Maybeck. Who knows. All I can say is, it looks like the current owners and their decorator both hated Craftsman style and are trying very hard to make this 1906 home safe for suburban tastes. Practically everything about this home is what the Arts & Crafts movement worked so hard against. Well, at least the back porch is pretty. If you've got 2.9 million to spend, I guess you can afford to put it back the way it should have been, anyway.

At least this particular agent seems to do a bit better with her other listings, although the prices in Burlingame are higher than I could have imagined.

I'm going to update my most recent criticism of sellers and their real estate agents being uneducated about their properties with an even greater pet peeve: opportunistic sellers and agents who use the cachet of "Craftsman" on properties that are anything but. In this case, the house might once have been, but the "Maybeck-inspired" beauty that may have once stood there died a messy death at the hands of someone with more money than taste.

Relative Valuation

There's a very good thread over on ask.metafilter today regarding the relative valuation of antique furniture and the best way to sell unique and high-priced items - it's a good place to start if you're inexperienced and find yourself with something you'd like to sell.

Marrying (into) A House

Liz Jaros has a nice article on what happens when you marry (or marry into - same thing) a house, in this weeks' Journal of Oak Park and River Forest.

We chuckle after the front door handle comes off in a guest’s hand. A constant breeze blowing in under the back door (an oversized monster of a door that made one potential contractor walk away laughing) prompts us to introduce the kitchen as a three-season room to friends who’ve come for a tour. We consider letting the kids sled down the front steps when a sagging gutter turns the porch into a mountain of ice. And when the pull of a closet light chain separates the fixture from the ceiling, sending a shower of plaster down onto our sweaters, we take it with good humor.

How Much is it Worth?


I get a lot of emails asking me to identify or otherwise evaluate various pieces of Arts and Crafts antique furniture - something I am completely unqualified to do. However, now that I've discovered the Chicago Antiques Guide, I have somewhere to turn when I get these requests.

The Guide is a weblog devoted to identifying and valuing antiques (specifically those in and around Chicago, IL). It's a great place to get advice about mystery items that have floated down the generations of your family, and  an even better way to learn about all sorts of makers' stamps and other identifying marks on furniture, ceramics, metalwork, glass and textiles.

The site also includes an extensive resources list of antique buying / pricing / selling / repairing agents throughout the Chicago area.

book review: William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Home

Morrisbookcoverdad Pamela Todd, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Home, photographs by Chris Tubbs, Chronicle Books, 2005

Pamela Todd and Chris Tubbs have compiled a welcome overview of the life, the philosophy, the works, and the influence of William Morris, the English 19th century polymath who is universally considered the father of the Arts and Crafts style. Morris (1834-1896), best known as a designer of floral textiles and wallpapers, promoted an arts and crafts aesthetic even before the appellation was invented, opening his London shop 1861 to sell hand crafted furniture, stained glass, and miscellaneous decorative products to the modestly avant guarde consumers of the period, upper middle-class consumers disgusted with mass produced products and Victorian excess. In the years that followed he and a range of talented associates pioneered new design principles that powerfully influenced English, and later American, architecture and interior furnishings.

This book focuses on the Arts and Crafts home, devoting text and pictures first to the homes Morris himself lived in (Red House in Kent and Kelmscott Manor in the Cotswolds) and then presenting six “case studies” of Morris principles applied to a manor house, a country house, a town house, a mansion, a farm house, and a late-Victorian terraced home.

All of these homes, handsomely photographed, share Morris’ distinctive style - handmade crafts; natural colors; a tendency toward the gothic; furniture that, by the standards of the period at least, were simply designed; painted and papered walls; richly floral rugs.

While a bit elaborate for American Arts and Crafts sensibilities - here the style associates more with middle class bungalows, wood shingles, paneled walls, and Stickleyesque furniture - Morris’ principles set the tone for design conscious homeowners then, and now. His legacy - homes and furnishings that are simple, solid, beautiful, and functional - carries on.

More Arts & Crafts in Asheville, Feb 16-19

Running concurrently with the Grove Park Inn's Asheville show and conference is a new Arts & Crafts antiques show in Asheville (thanks to Mark Golding's great Arts & Crafts movement newsletter for this!). From February 16 - 19, this new show will be held at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, but it looks like it's mainly just an antique show - they are not competing with the Grove Park's extensive program of lectures and workshops.

Freudenheim Lectures at Maybeck's Masterpiece

BuildingwithnaturesmallIn light of Paul's recent review of Building With Nature: Inspiration for the Arts & Crafts Home, a reader let us know that Leslie Freudenheim will be speaking in Berkeley in just a few days. If you are interested in the evolution of the Bay Area's unique Arts & Crafts style, you will no doubt find this lecture particularly interesting. The lecture is being held in Bernard Maybeck's masterpiece First Church of Christ, Scientist on Dwight at Bowditch; whether you've read the book or not, and whether you agree with Freudenheim or not, it's worth going just for the venue (although I think it will be worth attending for the content, as well). From the BAHA notice:

In her lecture, Leslie Freudenheim will talk about her discoveries and examine how Joseph Worcester and his circle encouraged less materialism through architecture that complemented a simpler life in tune with nature, inspired by vernacular architecture in Yosemite and worldwide. Freudenheim will quote letters from Joseph Worcester, Daniel H. Burnham, Bernard Maybeck, William Morris, Frederick Law Olmsted, and John Muir, and illustrate her lecture with rare historic images.

lecture by and book signing with Leslie Freudenheim ($15 admission)
Friday, 10 February 2006 at 7.30 pm
First Church of Christ, Scientist
2619 Dwight at Bowditch, Berkeley

Hearst Castle Lecture at the Gamble House


from the press release regarding an upcoming lecture in the Sidney D. Gamble lecture series, "Passionate Minds: Morgan, Hearst and the Building of San Simeon":

The third lecture in a series of five will be held on February 21st 2006, with a presentation by Victoria Kastner, author and Interpretive Specialist at Hearst Castle. Kastner will explore the twenty-eight year egalitarian, architect-client San Simeon collaboration between Julia Morgan and William R. Hearst, one of the most fascinating in the history of American building, Victoria Kastner is the author of Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House, and is currently writing a history of San Simeon's landscape.

The lecture will be held at the Neighborhood Church in Pasadena, 2 Westmoreland Place, immediately adjacent to The Gamble House. A reception with the speaker follows at The Gamble House. Doors open at 7 pm and the lectures begin at 7:30.

Tickets may be purchased from The Gamble House by phone 626.793.3334 x52,
e-mail:, or on the website: General admission: $12; members and students: $10. Advance reservations are recommended; admission at the door is $18.

photo by Flickr user Heydrienne, used under the Creative Commons license