Roycrofters at Auction

I have always been enamored with the Roycrofters--that very late nineteenth and early twentieth-century guild of artisans in upstate NY named after the seventeenth-century printers Samuel and Thomas Roycroft of London. Heavily influenced by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, Elbert Hubbard founded the guild and formed a community of printers, bookbinders, furniture makers, and other craftsmen. He also set up a private press, the Roycroft Press.

This week at PBA Galleries' Thursday auction of "fine books in all fields" and "fine literature," several Roycrofter titles are looking for buyers. The most elaborate of which is the 1900 title, So Here Then is the Last Ride (seen below). It's one of twenty-five copies on vellum, finely bound, and the estimate is $1,200-$1,800).

220596.jpgHollyhocks and Goldenglow from 1912 is plainer to the eye, but it's original blindstamped brown leather shows its true colors (below). This one is signed by Hubbard, and its estimate is $200-$300.

220600.jpgA Message to Garcia and Thirteen Other Things from 1901 is in its original tan leather and contains two leaves of original manuscript from Hubbard's essay, "Art That Wins." Seen here below and estimated at $500-$800.

220601.jpgA few others are also on the block -- So This Then is the Essay on Self-Reliance (1902) for $400-$600, Justinian and Theodora: A Drama (1906) for $700-$1,000, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1900) for $200-$300, and Will O' The Mill (1901) for $400-$600.

The great papermaker and printer Dard Hunter got his start with the Roycrofters. As Dard Hunter III told FB&C last year, his grandfather applied for a position with Hubbard in 1904:

"He didn't get the job, but he showed up at the compound anyway and was brought into the colony," said Hunter III. Soon, Hunter was designing and making stained glass windows and creating title pages for the Roycroft Press in East Aurora, New York. He also provided all Roycroft products with a unified look--branding the group with a visual identity. While with the community, Hunter also fell in love with and married Edith Cornell, the Roycrofters' concert pianist. [...Read More]

*All photos courtesy of PBA Galleries.