by Kate Nixon
Roycroft: Life in Abundance, The Collection of Richard Blacher
Wednesday, August 23rd
Part one auction: 10:00 AM Central
Part two auction: 1:00 PM Central
A special collaboration with Toomey & Co Auctioneers and Rago Arts and Auction Center
The collection of a lifetime devotee of the Roycroft legacy goes to auction in a special two-part online auction hosted and brought to us by Toomey & Co Auctioneers and Rago Arts and Auction Center.
On Wednesday, August 23rd, Roycroft publications, bookends, furniture and lighting that capture the best of Roycroft will be shown during the two-part auction Roycroft: Life in Abundance, The Collection of Richard Blacher. Part one kicks off at 10:00 AM Central (be sure to adjust for your time zone) and part two will start at 1:00 PM Central; both auctions will feature
The auction celebrates the dedication of Roycroft collector Richard Blacher, whose decades of work have amassed a comprehensive collection of items made from the Roycroft Press and handwrought from Roycroft artisans that embody the level of craftsmanship that the Roycroft name and the Arts & Crafts community is known for. Elbert Hubbard started the Roycroft Press to publish his own words. Hubbard continued to make special commissioned works as well as well known stories with handcrafted art and bindings under the printing press arm of his Roycroft business that employed more than 500 people.
Celebrating Roycroft: The Books
By far, the largest Roycroft presence in both of the auctions are books; both the singular rare [book and large groupings of handbound Roycroft books are offered in the two-parter online event. Blacher’s collection includes a wide range of the aforementioned rarities, including works by William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Henry David Thoreau, Omar Khayyam, Alfred Tennyson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Elbert and Alice Hubbard and many others — and thus, the Roycroft artists connected with the movement are also highlighted with works from Dard Hunter, artist Alexis Fournier, artist William Wallace Denslow, and bookbinder Louis Kinder.
Considered to the best and most rare of the books offered is An Appreciation of Thomas W. Lawson with a special Roycroft presentation box from the Citizens of Albert Lea. The publication was created after Lawson spoke with Williams Jennings Bryan in the city of Albert Lea, Minnesota to express his concern about the presence of the Standard Oil Company in the city. As an effort to give Lawson thanks, the citizens commissioned the Roycrofters to make the letter of appreciation — designed and hand illumined by Dard Hunter himself. Artist Alexis Fournier created three monoprints of landscapes included in the publication and the binding of the publication was created by Louis Kinder.
A selection of books in the auction are highlighted for their handcrafted quality and often contained in a handcrafted box: another such example is the visually stunning leather-bound Contemplations, written by Elbert Hubbard as a collection of essays, sermons, epigrams, and sayings along with the wood-carved box that the book comes with. Another example comes in Omar Khayyám’s The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám with a Roycroft presentation box: a translated tome of astronomer Khayyám whose spiritual ideas embraced the natural. The publication became incredibly popular in the 1870s — and considered a classic of the era. This version was one of Roycroft’s earliest books. For those collectors who seek the author’s editions of the writings of Hubbard, search no further — a complete set is available as long as bidders are prepared to open up their wallets as the $20,000-$30,000 estimates reveals. However, for those who are interested in the popular Hubbard-penned Little Journeys, there are a number of lots of Little Journeys volumes from a set of 25 volumes of Little Journeys ($2,500-$3,500) to a grouping of 14 “Memorial Edition” edition Little Journeys ($100-$200) to 49 volumes detailing the homes of English authors ($1,000-$1,500) — all up for bid in Part two of the auction.
Book collectors or enthusiasts can also rest easy knowing that there are a number of lots with large groupings of Roycroft books with lower estimates. While a grouping of three books (Song of Myself by Walt Whitman and two copies of The Man of Sorrows by Elbert Hubbard) comes in with a $1,500-2,000 estimate, another lot of Little Journeys – this set of 13 books details the homes of artists, musicians and philosophers – has a $300–500 estimate. The wide range of Roycroft Press books offered in both auctions is proof that collectors of varying levels can both populate their growing library and add to prominent collections with the offerings of this special auction.
Celebrating Roycroft: The Metalwork
Naturally where there are books, there should be bookends. As the Roycroft created many bookends, so are they represented in Wednesday’s auction.
With 23 lots of bookends made by Roycroft artists including Victor Toothaker, Karl Kipp, and Walter Upham Jennings, collectors are sure to jump at the chance to complete their Roycroft book collection with Roycroft made bookends to match. With one rare pair of Victor Toothaker designed bookends ($2,000-$2,500) featured in the Two Red Roses Collection catalog and another pair of Toothaker designed bookends with a poppy motif ($200-$400), there is a range for everyone. Additional metalwork featured in the two auctions include a fernery with Dogwood Blossoms by Victor Toothaker ($1,500-2,000) also eminating from the Two Red Roses Collection, a large and rare Roycroft tray also featuring a poppy design ($3,000-$4,000), a three piece desk set with stylized Dogwood blossoms made by Karl Kipp ($1,000-$1,500), a Roycroft nut bowl ($300-500), a Karl Kipp-designed Egyptian vase ($1,000-$1,500), and a collection of three Roycroft silver ($1,000-$1,500 for two bowls and a tray) among others. A Dard-Hunter designed brooch ($2,500-$3,500) signed and with a makers mark is an especially lovely addition to any jewelry collection. Last but not least, a rare Roycroft bun warmer ($1,000-$1,500) or a copper kettle ($600-$800) can make a great addition to a collector’s kitchen.
Celebrating Roycroft: The Lighting
As Tiffany lamps are often a part of any decorative arts auction, Roycroft lamps reign supreme in this auction – two shining examples include a Victor Toothaker designed lamp for Asheville’s own Grove Park Inn ($4,000-$6,000) with impressed orb and cross on both its shade and copper collar and a Roycroft lamp with a shade designed by Dard Hunter and base attributed to Victor Toothaker ($7,500-$10,000). The latter selection was part of the Two Red Roses Collection. A patinated copper Roycroft desk lamp ($1,500-$2,000), another Roycroft Table lamp ($500-$700), four Roycroft and Steuben table lamps (one with a handblown glass shade has estimates of $2,500-$3,500) and an early Roycroft lamp base with flowering branches ($500-$700) round out the lighting offerings.
Celebrating Roycroft: The Furniture
While the focus of these auctions are largely on the wide array of the Roycroft book selections, there are impressive offerings in the category of furniture. Take for example: the important bookcase from the collection of Elbert Hubbard ($8,000-$12,000) passed down through the family and acquired from the collection of Sanford and Georgina Hubbard, this impressive bookcase has shelving with two adjustable shelving units with a carved script maker’s mark to top panel ‘Roycroft’ with orb and cross marks the bottom drawer. In addition, the bookcase is sold with notarized letters of provenance from the estate of Elbert Hubbard.
Two hanging Roycroft signs are featured in the auction: one oaken and iron sign featuring the phrase “Life in Abundance” ($3,000-$4,000) and one oaken and iron sign declaring “A Deer Hunter is a Miserable Thing” ($2,000-$3,000). Also, a singular Goodie Box made of gumwood and handwrought iron ($400-$600) with the traditional orb and cross box on top is additionally offered in part two of the auction. A Roycroft Piano bench ($2,000-$3,000) bearing the handcarved “Roycroft” name and a traditional Little Journeys bench round out the offerings
How to bid
Those interested in bidding may do so online at toomeyco.com by registering for an account. (Bidding online at toomeyco.com) Please register in advance of the auction and place bids online.