An Educational Auction

by Bruce Johnson


I have always believed that every antiques shop, show, and auction is a classroom for learning more about the men and women of the Arts and Crafts movement whose work we collect, admire, and invite to enrich our daily lives.


Add to that list the websites which astute Arts and Crafts galleries and auction houses now publish which enable us to study the various forms and to also learn more about the items we collect.


A prime example of this educational opportunity is the current website posted by Gus Bostrom for his March 20 auction by his firm California Historical Design. This sale features more than 600 items, and offers us a prime opportunity to study various forms which you will rarely see in one of the larger auction houses. And to his credit, Gus includes at least three enlargeable pictures for each item, including those very important shopmarks.


A set of 4 Mathews Furniture Shop Chairs, complete with carved California Poppies. Tall back side chairs each with a unique hand-carved California poppy motif. Unsigned. Very nicely refinished. Very sturdy. 47″h x 21.5″w x 20.5″d. Estimates: $12,000 – $15,000



While the sale features notable examples by Dirk Van Erp, Gustav Stickley, L. & J.G. Stickley, the Roycrofters, Teco, and Artus Van Briggle, what I was even more impressed with were the vast number of items made by lesser known craftsmen and craftswomen whose work we seldom see at a major auction. With opening bids as low as $100 and pre-sale estimates of $100-$300, this sale has a great deal to offer to beginning collectors.


California Faience Tapered Vase Burgundy Glaze. Signed. Perfect condition. From the Estate of Kirby Brown, author of the California Faience book. 4 1/8″h x 3.75″d. Estimates are $150 – $200.


An Arts & Crafts Embroidered Rose Table Runner, circa 1910. Excellent condition. 63″ x 17″. Estimates: $200 – $300


Among the artisans whose work you might otherwise not have seen are:


Charlotte Crane (1891-1968) – A coppersmith who studied under Agatha Van Erp in the Van Erp copper shop in San Francisco.



Joel Hewes (1869-1952) – A member of the Boston Arts and Crafts Society, he was a noted coppersmith working in Titusville, PA.


Byard Tully – The foreman in Harry Dixon’s California workshop who started his own coppersmith business in 1932 when Dixon retired. His shopmark was his last name in script.


Fred Brosi of the Ye Olde Copper Shop in San Francisco, and coppersmith Henry van Wolf, who trained in Europe and practiced in Massachusetts and Los Angeles and who also founded the San Fernando Valley Artists Guild. Chicago coppersmith George Trautmann is also represented in the auction.



Among the lesser known Arts and Crafts furniture companies whose work you might not otherwise see is that of the Krug Furniture Company, which was based in Ontario, Canada, and produced a line of Arts and Crafts furniture based on Gustav Stickley designs.


In addition to examples by Limbert, Lifetime, and Stickley Brothers, the sale also includes furniture made by the Michigan Chair Company, the Brooks Furniture Company, the United Specialty Company (which made furniture similar to Shop of the Crafters, which is also represented in the sale), the Lakeside Crafts Shop, J. M. Young Company, and even unsigned examples from unknown manual arts schools.


In short, the website for this sale offers you a brief opportunity to learn more about lesser known Arts and Crafts firms and artisans, all from the sanctity of your home.


Don’t pass it by.


AC Stickley website:

To see a catalog of all items auctioned on, click here.


Bruce Johnson