Shop of the Crafters: A Research Report
by J. McCracken and Michael McCracken.
A grant was received from the Arts and Crafts Research fund to support our research on the Shop of the Crafters in Cincinnati, OH. The Shop of the Crafters is one of the lesser known Arts and Crafts furniture manufacturers, but for a short time it produced some quite interesting furniture that was designed by the Hungarian designer, Pál Horti. There has been minimal research on the Shop of the Crafters beyond the original research by Kenneth Trapp, in the early 1980’s, who at the time was Curatorial Assistant in the Decorative Arts Department of the Cincinnati Art Museum. Our research goal was to gain a much deeper understanding of the Shop of the Crafters including the owner of the company, Oscar Onken, the principal designers of the furniture, as well as the furniture they manufactured.
With support from the Arts and Crafts Research fund we were able to spend time in Cincinnati, OH, that allowed us to delve more deeply into the Shop of the Crafters and uncover source materials that were critical to understanding the company. In addition to that trip we were able to locate and access other source materials including previously unknown catalogs and a magazine, The Lantern, that Oscar Onken published for a brief period of time. Those catalogs display a more extensive line of furniture than previously known and with our research has yielded a different perspective on the Shop of the Crafters.
The designs by the Hungarian designer, Pál Horti, for the Shop of the Crafters furniture and lighting have been the most coveted by collectors. Our research allowed us to gain new insights into Horti’s relationship with the Shop of the Crafters and we discovered some previously undocumented designs by Horti for Shop of the Crafters.
The research into the Shop of the Crafters resulted in a recently published book entitled Oscar Onken and The Shop of the Crafters at Cincinnati. It traces the beginnings of Oscar Onken’s company that produced picture frames and store fixtures to the Shop of the Crafters that initially produced mission furniture and then the Arts and Crafts designs of Pál Horti. The book includes a color portfolio of Shop of the Crafters furniture, a previously unpublished 1902 catalog, a previously unpublished 1904 catalog, a sales pamphlet, and a reprint of the first issue of The Lantern, that included advertisements for Shop of the Crafters furniture that have previously been undocumented as well as pages previously omitted from the 1906 reprinted catalog.
Note: Author Je and Michael McCracken will be signing copies of their book, Oscar Onken and The Shop of the Crafters at Cincinnati, at the National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn next month. Copies can also be ordered through Turn of the Century Editions at www.Turnofthecenturyeditions.com.
Photos courtesy of the publisher.