Arts and Crafts Jewels of the Golden State: Frances Gearhart and California Historical Design

by Kate Nixon


Above (left to right): The works of Frances Gearhart that sold well at Toomey & Co’s Fine Art, Furniture & Decorative Arts Auction on March 2nd:  Fish Market (ca. 1930), Morning on the Elkhorn (ca. 1930), and Untitled Landscape. (R) An early Gustav Stickley headboard ($6,500 – $8,500) sold at Toomey & Co’s for $15,000.


Good news this month for woodcut print enthusiasts, Gustav Stickley collectors, and those of you in the Golden State…

Following up with our recent nod to the works of Frances Gearhart, the March 2nd auction from Toomey & Co Fine Art, Furniture & Decorative Arts saw plenty of interest in the three color woodcuts, which all sold either nearing or past the high estimate. Frances Hammell Gearhart was a printmaker and watercolorist who rose to prominence in Southern California during the Arts and Crafts era; her works were known mostly in California for her ability to represent the gold coast as full of movement. These signed color woodcuts, “Fish Market,” “Morning on the Elkhorn” and “Untitled,” were signed by the artist herself and kept in prime condition. Additionally, the etchings from Frances’s sister May sold in Toomey & Co’s auction for close to an $800.00 realized price. The appeal of Frances as a perfect example of a self-taught artist who presented the state of California with vibrant woodcut prints continues to this day as her story as an artist, printmaker and teacher is represented through exhibits and publications.

An oaken early sideboard ($6,500 – $8,500) from the father of the Arts and Crafts movement himself sold for $15,000: its early red box mark and A.A. Gray, Detroit, Michigan retailer’s tag and the original finish of the oaken exterior in excellent original condition justified a high selling price. Since an early Gustav Stickley china cabinet sold for $30,000 earlier this year, the enthusiasm and demand for Stickley’s early items from collectors has not slowed down. It’s a very fitting tribute during Gustav Stickley’s birthday month.

The latest Arts and Crafts Auction in March features another of Stickley’s eight leg sideboards – and a Limbert one too – which will sell during AcStickley’s March 22nd Arts and Crafts Auction alongside L & J.G. Stickley, Limbert furniture, The Roycrofters, Lakeside, JM Young, Grand Rapids Furniture and more. The auction, which will start at 11:00 AM Pacific / 2:00 PM Eastern, features the best in Arts and Crafts furniture firms, but includes ceramic works by Saturday Evening Girls, California Faience, Fulper, Rookwood, Marblehead, Grueby, Van Briggle, Moorcroft and Merrimac among others. As always, the works of Dirk Van Erp will be well represented in the bay area as his early hand-hammered works are offered in the form of bookends, a copper and mic lamp, bowls, candlestick holders and two large copper vases.

More than 700 items make up the auction taking place in Alameda, CA on March 26th. A preview of the auction will take place Friday, March 25th from 10 AM until 5 PM at the auctionhouse address of 1901 Broadway in Alameda, CA.


Click here to see lots from AcStickley Arts & Crafts Auction on Here are a few items we’ll keep our eyes on next weekend.


Lot 15: Early Unsigned Dirk van Erp “Warty” Bowl c1909.

Rare cramped-seam bottom. Excellent new patina.

Exhibited “Bay Area Copper 1900-1950”, “Dirk van Erp & His Influence” 2012 page 14 fig 28.

10.5″d x 4.5″h.

Estimate $1,200 – $1,500


Lot 22: Roycroft Hammered Copper Ruffled Rim Bowl c1920s

Roycroft Hammered Copper Ruffled Rim Bowl c1920s.

Signed. Excellent original patina.

6.5″d x 2.25″h.

Estimate $250$350




Lot 25: Fulper Pottery Orange & Mirror Black Flambe Buttress Vase c1910.

Signed. Perfect condition.

8.25”h x 6”d.

Estimate $600 – $800





Lot 39: Unusual Grueby Pottery Matte Green Overlapping Leaf Vase c1905

Signed. A few tiny flecks to the high points of the leaves, otherwise perfect condition.

9 3/8″h x 5.5″d.

Estimate $4,000 – $5,000





Lot 41: Overbeck Pottery Hand-Carved Vase after 1915.

Signed. Perfect condition.

5.25″h x 3.5″d.

Estimate $10,000 – $15,000






Lot 50: Early Limbert #88 Armchair c1902-1905.

Unsigned. Excellent original finish. Very sturdy.

34”h x 24.5”w x 19”d.

Estimate $1,200 – $1,500






Limbert Long Corbel Mirrored Sideboard c1910.

This version has the nicer hammered copper hardware. Excellent original finish. Signed with branded mark.

60″w x 59″h x 23″d.

Estimate $5,000$7,000





Tall Lifetime Furniture Co Slatted Rocker c1910.

Excellent original finish and original leather.

Signed with partial paper label.

’41″h x 28.5″w x 30.5″d.

Estimate: $600 – $800




For more information about the California Historical Design auction, please visit or peruse the AcStickley lots at