Studying Charles Binns, A Craftsman Christmas, and Sotheby’s Important Design

by Kate Nixon


This week, we’ve got a preview of two online courses from the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms that reveal the influence of Charles Binns on the legacy of American ceramics plus a holidays-themed session on how Gustav Stickley viewed the holidays as a balancing act of “spiritual impulse and the commercial necessities of a business.” Hear from Executive Director Vonda Givens on how Stickley’s thoughts on the holidays influence the organization’s programs. Registration is open for both classes, so sign up today. We’ll also delve into two special auctions from Sotheby’s, one an Important Design auction and we’ll show the Arts and Crafts offerings — and the other is a small, curated collection of the gorgeous Masterworks of Tiffany lighting. A small 39-lot auction will be your opportunity to bid on the beautiful and iconic lamps that are representative of the Tiffany name and we’ve got a small preview of the auction below. Read on for your previews of this week’s online course and auction offerings…


Arthur Baggs for Marblehead, tile frieze, ca. 1908-15. Rago Arts and Auction.


Online class:

Saturday, December 12th, 2020 – “Educating the Next Generation of Reformers: Charles Binns and the Alfred University Legacy”

1 PM EST, The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms via Online Zoom classroom

Charles Fergus Binns, bowl, 1925. Rago Arts and Auction.

If craft held the promise of reform and recovery for a weary populace, one aspect of its successful implementation that industry could not address was the training in and promotion of the skills necessary to ensure its own survival. Enter Charles F. Binns, “the father of American studio ceramics” the man whose skill and dedication as an educator and ceramist professionalized the craft and ensured it thrived. Binns’ work touched nearly every aspect of Arts and Crafts ceramics too, from Marblehead (with the education of Arthur Baggs) to Grueby (Frederick Walrath, a student, was sent to the pottery to address issues with the glazes), to Robineau, who was among his early students and devotees. This session explores the role of Binns as teacher, chemist, and influencer on the broader field and positions him as a central figure in American ceramic history.

Instructor and Director of Collections Jonathan Clancy, along with Executive Director Vonda Givens, will lead participants through the last session of the “Restorative Power of Craft” series on the influence of Charles F Binns on the world of ceramics at the turn of the century and beyond.

Registration is $25 per class and will take place over the online Zoom classroom. Registrants will get access to the Zoom link the day before the class.

To register, please click this link to visit the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms:


Online class:

Saturday, December 19th, 2020 – “A Very Craftsman Christmas”

1 PM EST, The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms via Online Zoom classroom

1 session only! | $25 |


Next Saturday, The Stickley Museum will hold a special holiday-themed session about Gustav Stickley as a businessman during the holidays. According to the class description on the Stickley Museum website, interested students can expect to get a glimpse into the mind of Stickley, stuck between making his living selling his works to the public and demonstrating the spirit of Christmas.

Writing in the The Craftsman in 1904, Stickley opined about the inherent tensions between modernity and the spirit of generosity he believed was inherent to Christmas. “There is little danger,” he wrote, “that the spirit and beauty of Christmas giving will ever be overdone or outgrown, in the truest sense, but there is a danger in an increasing modern tendency to change the “blessedness of giving” into a burdensome obligation, due to social rivalry and other causes, which really have no part in the real spirit of Christmas-tide.” In many ways, Stickley’s struggle with Christmas is a microcosm of the movement’s broader issue, how to balance the spiritual impulse and redemptive nature of craft with the commercial necessities of a business. For the next twelve years, Stickley promoted both sides of this, using the magazine’s content to promote “our better angels” while the back pages–the advertising–suggested last minute-gifts for harried givers.

In this special Christmas-themed class, instructor Clancy and Executive Director Givens will examine the gifts that Stickley promoted during the holiday season as examples of generosity and show the reach of Stickley’s influence. Givens says this research proves useful even today in understanding the Stickley legacy during the holidays.

“Over the years, the museum’s staff has often turned to The Craftsman magazine as a reference for holiday programs,” says Givens. “It is a fascinating resource that has informed the way we decorate the Log House, the tours we give and even the graphics we use to promote holiday programs.  It is both a time capsule and a unique reference for understanding our own time.”


To register, please click this link:



Dual auctions at Sotheby’s: Important Design and Dreaming in Glass


Important Design – Thursday, December 10th at 2 PM EST

Sotheby’s Important Design sale presents a curated survey of Design from the last century, from notable examples of American Arts & Crafts and French Art Deco to outstanding pieces of Contemporary Design. The auction is anchored by masterworks of mid-century and postwar decorative arts from the collection of Mike and Renée Silverstein. Previews are available in person by appointment from 10:00 AM until 5 PM EST.


Arts and Crafts offerings:

Lot 316: An oaken Gustav Stickley hall seat, executed by the Craftsman Workshops of Gustav Stickley, Eastwood, New York. ($30,000-$50,000)

Lot 317-318: A Rare rose Marblehead Pottery vase and panther vase designed by Arthur Irwin Hennessey and executed by Sarah Tutt. ($40,000-$60,000)

Lot 319-322: Works from Gustav Stickley, a rare writing desk ($40,000-$60,000), a four-light electrolier ($30,000-$50,000), Somno ($30,000-$50,000), and a Bungalow Trestle Table ($12,000-$18,000).

Lot 323: A rare Teco Pottery jardiniere ($50,000-$70,000)

Lot 324: A rare Gustav Stickley “Poppy” table ($30,000-$50,000) from the collection of Robert Kaplan

Lot 325-326: A Charles Rohlfs ladderback chair ($60,000-$80,000) and an oaken Charles Rohlfs Coal Hod also from the collection of Robert Kaplan ($100,000-$150,000) carved with the maker’s “sign of the saw” cipher.

Lot 327: A trapezoidal vase from the Roycrofters ($12,000-$18,000)

Lot 328: A Gustav Stickley sconce executed by the Craftsman Workshops of Gustav Stickley ($6,000-$8,000)

Lot 329: A Harvey Ellis Side Chair from the collection of Robert Kaplan ($60,000-$80,000)

Lot 330: Elizabeth Eaton Burton Two-light Table Lamp made of copper and abalone shell ($20,000-$30,000)

Lot 331: Dirk Van Erp “cratered” vase ($120,000-$180,000)

Lot 332: Charles Frederick Eaton Casket made of leather, wood, brass, abalone ($25,000-$35,000)

Lot 333: Elizabeth Eaton Burton table lamp ($40,000-$60,000)

Lot 334: Elizabeth Copeland lidded box made of silver and enamel ($20,000-$30,000)


For images, descriptions, and condition reports of the lots, visit the auction page on Sotheby’s website:



Dreaming in Glass: Masterworks by Tiffany Studios – Thursday, December 10th at 5 PM EST


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Sotheby’s annual dedicated auction Tiffany: Dreaming in Glass features a broad survey of works by the celebrated American firm, including leaded glass lighting, fancy goods, and blown favrile glass. Leading the 39-lot sale are a selection of naturalistic lamps including an example of the iconic “Wisteria” table lamp model, a rare “Butterfly” table lamp, and a “Woodbine” chandelier.

Further highlighting the sale are early works by Tiffany, including a balustrade section from the historic Havemeyer House and a rare twisted wire and blown favrile glass table base paired with a “Tyler” shade. Additionally, an early, award-winning “Morning Glory” vase will be included from the collection of Leslie Nash, which was exhibited in the 1910 Paris Salon.

Previews are available, only by appointment at Sotheby’s. Previews will end Wednesday at 5 PM EST.  Interested collectors can bid through Absentee bidding, advance bidding, telephone bidding or online bidding since in-person bidding is not allowed. Those interested in online bidding can register for an account by visiting the auction page using the link below.


To see lots, descriptions, and condition reports, visit Sotheby’s website at: