Does Anyone Really “Collect” Dirk Van Erp?
No Dirk Van Erp bashing going on here.
Its just that certain Arts & Crafts makers, such as Dirk Van Erp, Charles Rohlfs or Artus Van Briggle, produced so little work themselves that most collectors are happy just to see a piece in person, let alone have one in their home — or pretend to “collect” several examples.
And just how many $14,000 lamps can one home accommodate?
Production at the Van Erp Studio, where master metalsmith Dirk trained both his daughter Agatha and son William, who used the studio shopmark for 44 years after Dirk’s death in 1933, can be assigned to one of three categories: lighting, large hollowware and smalls.
The largest, earliest and rarest of his mica and copper table lamps occasionally blew past the $100,000 mark at pre-recession Arts & Crafts auctions. More recently, standard Van Erp table lamps have settled into the $5,000-$15,000 range. Still a large piece of change, but many are likely to be considered a bargain in the future. Van Erp lamp specialists will distinguish lamps by the roll of the shade’s rim, location of the rivets and the curve of the brackets, so do your homework — and do not jump in with your eyes closed and bidding paddle waving frantically in the air.
Once prices for Van Erp table lamps began escalating, collectors turned their attention to his large copper bowls and jardinières. Especially prized are rare versions with a rough “warty” texture (see photo). Most Van Erp hollowware now sells in the $2,000-$4,000 range. Three factors will distinguish at what end of the range a piece falls: size (larger is always better), hammering (warty is favored) and condition (must be original with only normal wear).
The Van Erp family did have to satisfy a diverse San Francisco clientele, so they also produced a number of smaller items: low copper bowls, bangles, trays, bookends and desk sets. If you are intent on adding a Van Dirk windmill shopmark to your metalware collection, set your sights on one of these, for they often sell in the $300-$1,200 range.
If you are more concerned with shape and design than with an original surface, the polished or professionally repatinated examples are often shunned by the ‘serious’ collectors.
Photographs courtesy of Rago Auctions at http://www.ragoarts.com.
Want to learn more about Dirk Van Erp and his work? Click here for our Beginner’s Guide entry: