A Fabulous New Jewelry & Metalware Book
You would be hard pressed to find any book on the Arts and Crafts movement that I do not enjoy, but when my wife settles into our couch on a sunny Saturday afternoon and doesn’t do anything for three hours but read passages aloud, exclaim over spectacular color photographs, and turn page after page after page, then you should know this book is something truly special.
The book is “Hand Wrought Arts & Crafts Metalwork & Jewelry: 1890-1940,” written by Darcy L. Evon a collector, historian, and writer living in the Chicago area.
This book is one of those truly rare blends of perfect ingredients. While nearly every page has at least one spectacular color photograph printed on quality paper, they are balanced with black and white historical images, shopmarks, and detailed historical background and information on 175 craftsmen and craftswomen in the Midwest.
In her introduction, Ms. Evon clearly states that it was her intention to cover the “history of jewelry and metalwork industries in Chicago and the Midwest,” recognizing that Boston and California artisans played an important role in the Arts and Crafts movement, but were beyond the scope of her book.
Her decision was wise, for it enabled her to delve more deeply into Chicago and Midwestern firms rather than providing us with yet another general overview of the entire country’s contribution. In addition to such well-known shops as Kalo and Marshall Field, Ms. Evon opens our eyes to smaller firms, many of which only operated for a few years. We come away from this work with a greater appreciation for Eivind Borsum, Brandt Metal Crafters, and Carence Craftsers, just to name a few.
But where I feel Ms. Evon has does the greatest service is in her research and writing skills that have brought hundreds of names alive, and have provided us with insight into the personalities and the hardships which these entrepreneurs endured. This is not simply a coffee table encyclopedia of names, dates, and facts; it is a collection of mini-biographies of men and women who might have otherwise faded into obscurity.
I also want to applaud Schiffer Publishing for not only ennabling Ms. Evon’s research to be published, but for recognizing the importance of staging her research and her stunning photographs on heavy, glossy paper bound to withstand the constant flipping of pages which this book will inspire. The design and the layout are as good as any I have seen and place Schiffer Publishing alongside any university press currently publishing books about the Arts and Crafts movement.
And for those furniture and art pottery collectors out there, this is a book you must have, for not only does the jewelry and metalware of the era compliment what you already collect, it still remains affordable and readily available — provided you know what to look for.
And Ms. Evon takes away any excuse you might have had.
– Bruce Johnson
PS – We are keeping our fingers crossed that copies of “Hand Wrought Arts & Crafts Metalwork & Jewelry: 1890-1940” (Schiffer Publishing, hardback, 288 pages, $69.95) will be available at next week’s Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn.