Arts and Crafts Metalwork and Jewelry
by John P. Walcher, Vice President and Senior Specialist
Metalwork and jewelry from the American Arts and Crafts Movement is seeing a strong renewal in collecting interest and scholarship. From recent and upcoming auctions at Toomey & Co., to new publications and exhibitions, there is quite a lot happening with material from this period. Presented here is an overview of significant events and essential resources.
The Paul & Terry Somerson Collection on May 5, 2019
On Sunday, May 5, Toomey & Co. offered items from The Paul & Terry Somerson Collection of 20th and 21st Century Metalwork and Jewelry. This carefully curated, single-owner catalog sale drew on the largest private collection of American Arts and Crafts metalwork and jewelry.
Paul Somerson was a highly successful tech journalist during the 1980s and 1990s at PC Magazine and PC/Computing. He also authored the bestselling reference, DOS Power Tools. In 2001, Paul and his wife Terry began collecting American Arts and Crafts metalwork and jewelry as well as Stickley furniture, art pottery tiles, and vintage photography. Paul soon founded Chicago Silver, a comprehensive online guide to Chicago’s renowned Kalo Shop as well as other Arts and Crafts makers. On May 25, 2018, Paul passed away suddenly at age 68. We were deeply saddened by his passing, but we were honored to represent The Paul & Terry Somerson Collection at auction.
BROWSE THE SOMERSON CATALOG
Art & Design Auction on March 10, 2019
There were several Arts and Crafts metalwork and jewelry lots in our Art & Design auction on Sunday, March 10. Below are some highlights from the sale. Click on any lot image to view its catalog page.
The Kalo Shop
For a detailed account of the Kalo Shop’s history, important designers and makers, and stylistic forms, read our profile under Featured Artists and Makers.
These are a few books that we recommend for anyone interested in Arts and Crafts metalwork or jewelry. Each title has much to offer for beginning and advanced collectors alike. Click on any book cover to view its sale page.
Exhibitions and Catalogs
Maker & Muse
From February 14, 2015 to January 3, 2016, the Richard H. Driehaus Museum in Chicago held a groundbreaking exhibition entitled, Maker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry, which is on tour at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Florida through May 27, 2019 and scheduled to travel extensively in the next two years. Locations include the Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Dayton Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio, the Frick Pittsburgh, and the Allentown Art Museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The Maker & Muse exhibition features over 250 pieces made or inspired by women in detailed, handwrought styles that often display a boldly natural aesthetic. Focusing on the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain, Art Nouveau in France, Jugendstil in Germany and Austria, Louis Comfort Tiffany in New York, and American Arts and Crafts in Chicago, the items assembled from the Driehaus and other notable collections demonstrate the shared design values of each movement while showcasing the individual styles of important makers. To accompany the exhibition, jewelry historian and curator Elyse Zorn Karlin co-authored an extensively illustrated catalog with leading experts and a foreword from Richard Driehaus himself. Elyse delivered a Maker & Muse lecture at the Flagler Museum on Thursday, March 14, 2019. The catalog is available for purchase online through The Monacelli Press.
Along with Chicago, Boston was one of the most prolific centers of American Arts and Crafts jewelry-making and metalworking in the early twentieth century. To celebrate and highlight both the makers and designs of the colorfully ornate “Boston look,” the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is currently running an exhibition entitled, Boston Made: Arts and Crafts Jewelry and Metalwork, which continues through March 29, 2020. This exhibition features over 75 pieces of jewelry, tableware, decorative items, and design sketches. Influential makers include Frank Gardner Hale, Edward Everett Oakes, Josephine Hartwell Shaw, and others. Among the sources for the exhibition is The Paul and Terry Somerson Collection. For background on the exhibition, MFA Publications has released a companion catalog, Arts and Crafts Jewelry in Boston: Frank Gardner Hale and His Circle, writtten by Nonie Gadsden, Meghan Melvin, and Emily Stoehrer.