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The Collectics Antiques Information & Education pages are designed to further knowledge of antiques, collectibles, collecting styles, periods, artists, designers, and manufacturers of fine and decorative arts. To learn more, our Antique Collector Bookstore lists only the best collector books and price guides, complied by surveys of top antique dealers and auction houses. For a different shopping experience, you can also browse our featured selections in a fun new way with the Antique Price Guides Slideshow or see current bestsellers by using Collector Books Topic Search.

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The arts and crafts movement in America was a time of great design experimentation and innovation in the "craftsman style." Architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley, and Greene & Greene embraced the clean lines and simplicity of design emblematic of the arts and crafts style. The Arts & Crafts movement really began in Europe in the latter half of the 1800s alongside the eroticism and floral themes of Art Nouveau and the German Jugendstil movement. In the latter years of the 19th century, artists and architects began to rebel against the dehumanizing effects of industrialization and return to more hand crafted decorative items. Artist colonies were founded to explore individual craftsmanship and creativity.

One of the early results of the movement in America was Mission furniture, first popularized by Gustav Stickley (1858-1942). Stickley's designs were rustic in design and used thick, bold framing with a very angular design. Stickley and his contemporaries in mission furniture used thick planks of oak with large, exposed joints which were often pegged to give the furniture extraordinary strength and stability. Rather than the gloss of the Art Nouveau movement, arts & crafts designs were intentionally rustic and weatherbeaten in appearance. Special finishes were developed by Stickley and others to age the look of the wood in their production of mission furniture. Stickley also produced homes and began publishing Craftsman Magazine in 1901. Stickley designed homes to fit the furniture he created. Simple "Craftsman-style" homes -- often no more than a few spacious rooms whose only ornamentation consisted of beautiful natural woodwork and room dividers along with a stone or brick hearth. An abundance of windows to let in natural light was also important since sunlight cast an entirely different light than gas and electric lights. Stickley designs never compromised quality and were expensive to manufacture, and the firm went bankrupt in 1917 as World War I was ending.

Arts and crafts pottery also exploded onto the American scene at the turn of the century, led by manufacturers such as Grueby, Weller, Fulper, and others. Metalwork also experienced a design renaissance, as homeowners sought hand forged metalware for use around the home and in their furniture designs. Copper became a very popular design material, especially the "hand hammered" look which revealed the individual blows of the hammer. Arts and crafts lighting used bronze, metal, and mica shades to create a new design aesthetic in lamps. Best known for lamps is Dirk van Erp, whose hammered copper lamp bases which were patinated with rich reds and browns were very popular and expensive even at the time. Roycroft produced many copper bookends, vases, and other household items, and even Tiffany produced desk sets and other items in the arts and crafts style. When Elbert Hubbard, the founder of Roycroft, died in 1915 on the Lusitania, the American Arts & Crafts movement began a slow decline. Modernism and Art Deco was on the rise, maintaining the streamlined design aesthetic but returning to the use of luxury materials and design extravagance.

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