The American Beauty Vase
The stately Grove Park Inn, constructed on and of Sunset Mountain overlooking Asheville, North Carolina, stands as a testament to the durability of the Arts and Crafts style and philosophy.
When it first opened on July 12, 1913, it glistened as a literal showcase of the Arts and Crafts movement: Heywood-Wakefield wicker furniture, Old Hickory rockers, Roycroft dining room chairs, sideboards, and servers, White Furniture Company bedroom suites, and Roycroft Copper Shop lighting fixtures.
Proudly presented that evening and in the years to come were a number of 22-inch Roycroft American Beauty vases, taking their name from the long-stemmed roses often displayed in the hammered copper vases. The Roycroft Copper Shop had already been producing American Beauty vases in three smaller sizes, the largest being 18 inches tall, but these towering vases bore a special inscription.
We originally thought these 22-inch vases had only been made for use at the Grove Park Inn, but as Arts and Crafts collectors began to seek them out, more examples surfaced than were ever photographed in any of the hotel’s rooms. Once a cache of letters between the Grove Park Inn and the Roycroft Copper Shop surfaced, it became clear that the vases, along with other Roycroft items, were being sold to guests at the gift shop located in the Great Hall, where the front desk currently stands.
The 22-inch vases were the most expensive of all the Roycroft lamps, trays, and other items offered for sale, so they were not produced in a great quantity. By my estimation approximately 100 of the inscribed vases were shipped to the Grove Park Inn before they were discontinued in the 1920s.
Today these GPI-Roycroft vases are on many Roycroft collectors’ lists of most desirable items, as they are tall enough to serve as a floor vase, yet not too tall to look awkward on the center of a library table or tabouret.
Because of their size, these vases were constructed in three sections: the tall neck, the riveted bowl, and the flared base. They are connected by a bolt with a nut recessed in the base beside the inscription. If the nut becomes loose, the neck can tilt, making the vase look as if it has been dropped and damaged. More often than not, the nut just needs to be tightened, after gently repositioning the neck and bowl to stand up straight.
If you would like to learn more about the antiques from the historic Grove Park Inn, simply go to the website of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms and become a member. Among your many perks, you can watch me show off an American Beauty vase during the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms’ live session “A Visit with Bruce Johnson: Roycroft at the 1913 Grove Park Inn” on Saturday, July 24.
And you’ll be supporting a great cause!
Hope to see you then!
– Bruce Johnson