The Winterthur Library

 The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum

5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Delaware  19735

Telephone: 302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883





Creator:         Edwards, Robert, 1945-2014                        

Title:               Robert Edwards research and business papers

Dates:             1963-2010

Call No.:         Col. 937

Acc. No.:        14x75; 15x15

Quantity:        25 boxes

Location:        41 C 1, D 1-3, E 1, and map case C, drawer 3






Robert Edwards was an antiques dealer and independent scholar, specializing in late 19th-early 20th century American decorative arts.  He was noted for his knowledge about the Arts and Crafts movement, especially concentrating on Rose Valley, Pennsylvania, and the Byrdcliffe art colony in Woodstock, New York.  He was also very interested in the work of Wharton Esherick and other early 20th century craftsmen in the Philadelphia area such as Parke Edwards and Samuel Yellin.  While others interested in the Arts and Crafts movement concentrated on Gustav Stickley, Edwards sought out other practitioners, studied them, promoted them, and helped place their products in museums around the United States. 


Robert Edwards has researched, curated, and produced exhibitions about the Arts & Crafts movement.  Past exhibitions include   “A Poor Sort of Heaven, A Good Sort of Earth: The Rose Valley Arts and Crafts Experiment” at The Brandywine River Museum, “The Art That is Life: The Arts and Crafts Movement in America” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and two Byrdcliffe exhibitions: “Life by Design” at the Delaware Art Museum and “Byrdcliffe: An American Arts and Crafts Colony,” with Cornell University.  He managed the estate of Byrdcliffe founders, Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead and Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, and he directed the transfer of the archives to Winterthur. He edited and published Tiller, a letterpress journal about the Arts & Crafts movement.  He published “William Lightfoot Price: His Furniture and Its Context” in American Furniture, and at his death was researching woodcarver Karl von Rydingsvärd.



Edwards wrote articles for magazines and contributed essays to books on Arts and Crafts, including “The Art that is Life” (edited by Wendy Kaplan) and Byrdcliffe: An American Arts and Crafts Colony (edited by Nancy E. Green).  Although his opinions were not always shared by others, a number of scholars agree that he opened debates that added to the decorative arts field. 


Edwards was born in Maine in 1945.  He studied sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design.  During his service in the U. S. Army, he directed an arts and crafts program in the Panama Canal Zone and assisted in the replication of pre-Columbian metal artifacts for a museum in Colombia.  Afterwards, he restored a railroad depot in Maine.  Eventually, he decided to become an antiques dealer, settling in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.  He also did some interior design work.  He died June 16, 2014, in Pennsylvania.





Papers reflect both Robert Edwards’ research interests, particularly in furniture, and his antiques business.  Included are notes and articles on the Arts and Crafts movement in general, and several of its practitioners, such as Byrdcliffe, Rose Valley, the Stickleys, and the Maenes.   He was also interested in Wharton Esherick, known for his sculptural furniture and woodcut prints, who worked later than the Arts and Crafts movement.  This research was partly undertaken for his own interest, but also underpinned his business dealings as he became expert in recognizing pieces by Arts and Crafts masters.  Towards the end of his life, Edwards was researching the woodcarver Karl von Rydingsvärd, but the collection contains only a little bit of information about him.    


Edwards’ business is represented by sales receipts for items bought and sold by him; agreements for loans to exhibits; appraisals of collections; and consignment agreements.   Photos of furniture and other decorative arts pieces are also part of the collection; some of the pieces would have been offered for sale through his shop, but other photos are probably just reference photos; as few are labeled, it is not clear which photos fall into which category.  Correspondence files include both personal and business letters.  Some drawings are in the collection; few are signed and it is not possible to tell which are by Edwards and which by friends.   Copies of advertisements are also found. 


Edwards published a short-lived periodical called Tiller, devoted to the Arts and Crafts movement.  The printing plates for Tiller as well as some other business records are part of the collection.  Another activity was a mail order business called Orchis, selling home decorating goods, greeting cards and calendars.  The business did not last long, but a little information about this is in the files. 


Robert Edwards handled the disposal of the Ralph and Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead estate, transferring most of the papers to the Downs Collection, and selling the furniture on behalf of the heir Mark Willcox, Jr.  A few original items from the Whiteheads came in as part of his papers.  One item is a document relating to Jerome Keating (1792-1833), a Philadelphia businessman some of whose descendants became related to the Whitehead family by marriage.  (The document is in Latin, and is signed by Francis Patrick Kenrick, the Bishop of Philadelphia.)  A few photographs, a ticket to a dance in 1895, and a pamphlet written by Ralph Whitehead are also part of this group.





Files are grouped into general and research files; correspondence; photographs; business papers; publications.





The materials are in English.





Collection is open to the public.  Copyright restrictions may apply.





Gift of the estate of Robert Edwards.






            Esherick, Wharton.

Keating, Jerome, 1792-1833.

Pabst, Daniel, 1826-1910.

Phillips, Marjorie, 1895-1985.

Stickley, Leopold, 1869-1957.

            Willcox, Margaret Keating, 1911-1996.

Yellin, Samuel, 1885-1940.




            Byrdcliffe (Art colony)

            Antique dealers - Pennsylvania - Swarthmore.

            Antiques business.

            Arts and crafts movement.

            Decoration and ornament - 19th century.

Decoration and ornament - 20th century.

Furniture, Mission.

Furniture, Mission - Photographs.

Printing plates.

Selling - Antiques.

Wallpaper - Specimens.

Rose Valley (Pa.) - History.

Italy – Photographs – 19th century.


            Additional title:







Location: 41 C 1, D 1-3, E 1



Note: all items are from accession 15x15 unless otherwise noted


Box 1:


Folder 1:          Advertisements: early 20th century


Folder 2:          Aesthetic movement


Folder 3:          Albright, Henry James


Folder 4:          “The Art that is Life”: Correspondence


Folder 5:          “The Art that is Life”: drafts of essays


Folder 6:          “The Art that is Life”: notes and articles


Folder 7:          “The Art that is Life”: objects lists


Folder 8:          “The Art that is Life”: photographs and pictures


Folder 9:          “The Art that is Life”: proposal and outline


Folder 10:        Articles: typescripts


Folder 11:        Arts and Crafts: articles


Folder 12:        Arts and Crafts: notes



Box 2:


Folder 1:          Arts and Crafts in Boston: symposium at New York University, no date


Folder 2:          Auction catalogs


Folder 3:          Bach, Oscar B.


Folder 4:          Bigelow, Marguerite Ogden: “For Guest in a Simple House”

                                    [printed statement]


Folder 5:          Byrdcliffe: analytic report on pieces owned by Winterthur Museum


Folder 6:          Byrdcliffe: correspondence


Folder 7:          Byrdcliffe: correspondence: Willcox, Mark (to, from, about)


Folder 8:          Byrdcliffe: deeds of gift and loan agreements


Folder 9:          Byrdcliffe: exhibits


Folder 10:        Byrdcliffe: exhibits: object lists


Folder 11:        Byrdcliffe: inventory, 1999



Box 3:


Folder 1:          Byrdcliffe: inventory, 2001, and other pictures


Folder 2:          Byrdcliffe: James R. Bakker Antiques: exhibit and sale


Folder 3:          Byrdcliffe: notes and articles


Folder 4:          Byrdcliffe: notes (from notebook and legal pad)


Folder 5:          Byrdcliffe: Whitehead family materials;

                        Includes: document (in Latin) pertaining to Jerome Keating (1792-1833) of Philadelphia, dated Nov. 1845, signed by Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick;

                        Ticket to Flower Ball, issued to Ralph Whitehead, April 1895, no place;

                        Photos of White Pines, Ralph Whitehead, irises;

                        Two Byrdcliffe envelops, with printed date 1909;

                        Copy of “Arrows of the Dawn, No.1: The Unemployed,” 1895;

                        Color photo of a piece of Byrdcliffe furniture and copies of photos of Ralph Whitehead


Folder 6:          Byrdcliffe: Robert Edwards’ article for The Magazine Antiques, 2003


Folder 7:          Byrdcliffe: Robert Edwards:  articles and essays: drafts

                                    [folder 1 of 3; continued in next box]



Box 4:


Folders 1-2:     Byrdcliffe: Robert Edwards:  articles and essays: drafts

                                    [folders 2-3 of 3; continued from previous box]


Folder 3:          C. Pardee Works, Inc.


Folder 4:          Davenport, Albert Henry


Folders 5-6:     Esherick, Wharton: articles about him           


Folder 7:          Esherick, Wharton: correspondence about him


Folder 8:          Esherick, Wharton: Robert Edwards’ correspondence with Peter Joseph


Folder 9:          Esherick, Wharton: Lehrer collection


Folder 10:        Esherick, Wharton: notes


Folder 11:        Esherick, Wharton: photos

                                    (folder 1 of 2, continued in next box)



Box 5:


Folder 1:          Esherick, Wharton: photos

                                    (folder 2 of 2, continued from previous box)


Folder 2:          Esherick, Wharton: publications about


Folder 3:          Esherick, Wharton: sales and appraisals


Folder 4:          Esherick, Wharton: shows


Folder 5:          Havas, Francis, and Tarnay, Bertha (lived 1891-1973)


Folder 6:          Irving House, Decatur, Illinois (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright)


Folder 7:          L. & J.G. Stickley, Inc., and Leopold Stickley


Folder 8:          Lawrence, Wade Alan: “Tiffanys in Duluth” (honors paper, 1984)


Folder 9:          Limbert, Charles P.


Folder 10:        Maene, Edward



Box 6:


Folder 1:          Notes


Folder 2:          Notes from unlabeled notebook


Folders 3-4:     Notes from various notebooks: no labels on notebooks


Folder 5:          Orchis

[see also sketch in oversize box]


Folder 6:          Orchis: accounts


Folder 7:          Pabst, Daniel: Philadelphia Museum of Art study day, 2008


Folder 8:          “Riverbend, Kohler, Wisconsin”: paper by unknown person



Box 7:


Folder 1:          Rose Valley: article by Robert Edwards (draft)


Folder 2:          Rose Valley: exhibit ideas


Folder 3:          Rose Valley: museum proposal


Folders 4-6:     Rose Valley: notes and articles


Folder 7:          Rose Valley: photographs and postcards


Folder 8:          Roycroft


Folder 9:          “Selling the Colonial Image”: notes


Folder 10:        Shea, William

                                    (folder 1 of 2; continued in next box)



Box 8:


Folder 1:          Shea, William

                                    (folder 2 of 2; continued from previous box)


Folder 2:          Stickley, Gustav, and his business


Folder 3:          Tiller: correspondence


Folder 4:          Tiller: invoices and expenses


Folder 5:          Tiller:  library resources survey


Folder 6:          Tiller:  notes


Folder 7:          Tiller: photographs and pictures


Folder 8:          von Rydingsvard, Arthur Karl

                                    [see also issue of Art Education with an article by him]


Folder 9:          Willcox, Margaret [Keating]: estate inventory and appraisal

                                    [Margaret Keating Willcox was the sister of Mark Willcox, Jr., who inherited “White Pines” from his cousin Peter Whitehead]


Folder 10:        Wright, Frank Lloyd

                                    [see also Irving House]


Folder 11:        Yellin, Samuel



Box 9: legal size files


Folder 1:          Designs and sketches, presumably most by Robert Edwards

                                    [see also oversize box]


Folder 2:          Inventory (of what and for whom are unknown)


Folder 3:          Phillips, Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin: auction


Folder 4:          Phillips, Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin: Georgetown residence


Folder 5:          Phillips, Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin: new residence


Folder 6:          Phillips, Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin: purchases, sales, correspondence


Folder 7:          Phillips, Marjorie: inventory, will, auction


Folder 8:          Phillips Collection: interior decoration


Folder 9:          Phillips house: notes

                                    [from unlabeled notebook, but the notes seem to pertain to this topic]


Folder 10:        Shapiro, Andrew


Folder 11:        Wallpaper samples

                                    [some samples from Fletcher house, Provincetown, Mass.]




Box 10: Correspondence


Folder 1:          Correspondence: no date and fragments of letters


Folders 2-7:     Correspondence: 1963-2010

                                    [in chronological order]


Folder 8:          Correspondence: Brandt, Beverly



Box 11: Photographs of furniture, and of the Theodore Swann house


Folder 1:          Bedsteads


Folder 2:          Blanket chests


Folder 3:          Bookcases and china cabinets

                                    [see also Sideboards]


Folder 4:          Chairs


Folder 5:          Chests of drawers and bureaus


Folder 6:          Clocks


Folder 7:          Desks


Folder 8:          Mirrors


Folder 9:          Settees and benches


Folder 10:        Sideboards

                                    [see also serving tables in Tables folder]


Folder 11:        Stands


Folder 12:        Tables: includes serving, dining, coffee, end, and work tables


Folder 13:        Tables: dressing tables


Folder 14:        Tables: pedestal tables


Folder 15:        Swann, Theodore: copies of photos from albums of his house

                                    [note: the original albums are held by the Downs Collection, Col. 117]



Box 12: Photographs


Folder 1:          Buildings


Folder 2:          Ceramics


Folder 3:          Details (many of furniture)


Folder 4:          Glass, including windows


Folder 5:          Graphics, including sketches and paintings


Folder 6:          Lighting fixtures, sconces, candle holders


Folder 7:          Mantles and fireplaces


Folder 8:          Metal


Folder 9:          Miscellaneous


Folder 10:        More than one item (many include furniture)


Folder 11:        People


Folder 12:        Rooms and shops


Folder 13:        Textiles



Box 13:  Robert Edwards business


Folder 1:          Compact disks

                                    [include photos and papers; see labels on disks]


Folder 2:          Appraisals done by Robert Edwards for others


Folder 3:          Auctions: items consigned to auction


Folders 4-5:     Auction 2002



Box 14:  Robert Edwards business


Folder 1:          Auction: Phillips auctioneers


Folder 2:          Bank deposits: 1985


Folder 3:          Conservation work


Folder 4:          Consignments: items consigned by Edwards to others


Folder 5:          Consignments: items consigned to Edwards to sale


Folder 6:          Loans to exhibits


Folder 7:          Museums: items offered to museums for purchase, gift, or examination


Folder 8:          Notes on prices (context not clear)


Folders 9-10:   Purchases made by Edwards 


Folder 11:        Receipts for books purchased for reference library of The Artsman, Inc.



Box 15:  Robert Edwards business


Folder 1:          Sales: eBay records


Folder 2:          Sales: Elliott, Scott: collection


Folder 3:          Sales: Sachs, Sally and Walter


Folder 4:          Sales receipts: The Artsman


Folders 5-6:     Sales receipts  


Folder 7:          Sales receipts and invoices (items sold by Roberts)


Folder 8:          Ledger, 1977-1978

                                    [most of book was blank, so pages have been removed from original volume]



Box 16:  Robert Edwards business


Folder 1:          Stock records


Folder 2:          Record of cash and checks (possibly 1977-1978):

expenses, 1979-Jan. 1979;

list of scribers [presumably to Tiller]



Box 17:  Robert Edwards


Folder 1:          Advertisements for Edwards business


Folder 2:          Appraisal of property of Robert Edwards, 1990

                                    (personal and real estate)


Folder 3:          Articles by Edwards


Folder 4:          Auctions of his collections


Folder 5:          Biographical materials, obituary, resume, photographs, articles about Edwards or mentioning him


Folder 6:          Designer Show House, 1999: Friends of Woodburn (Delaware)


Folders 7-8:     Designer Show House, 1980, 1981, 2000: Vassar


Folder 9:          House and grounds in Swarthmore


Folder 10:        Project ideas, including proposed book “Good, Better, Best”


Folder 11:        Sketchbook [mostly blank]


Folder 12:        Stationery, mostly for business



Box 18:  Robert Edwards


Folder 1:          Talk: Philadelphia area Arts and Crafts


Folder 2:          Talk: Furniture Forum (Winterthur Museum): 2014: slides


Folders 3-4:     Talks   


Folder 5:          Website: “About”


Folder 6:          Website: book reviews


Folder 7:          Website: Byrdcliffe and White Pines Pottery


Folder 8:          Website: DeYoung Museum articles


Folder 9:          Website: Pabst, Daniel


Folder 10:        Website: Tiller


Folder 11:        Website: Edwards’ articles in Maine Antiques Digest (MAD)


Folder 12:        Website: Edwards’ writings



Box 19:  Robert Edwards: calendars


Calendars for 1993, 1996-1997, 1999-2000, 2002/2003-2013




Box 20:  Publications


Folder 1:          Art Education, no date (but has been identified as January 1901): includes article by Karl von Rydingsvard and one about Charles Rohlfs (“Furniture Designed and Made by Charles Rohlfs”)


Folder 2:          Arts & Crafts Homes and the Revival, winter 2007 issue


Folder 3:          Community Arts Center, Wallingford, Penn.

                                    [in former home of Henry P. and Ida E. Dixon]


Folder 4:          The Germ, 1901 facsimile reprint of 1850 publication, with introduction by William Michael Rossetti (London: Elliot Stock, 1901). 

Despite what the title page says, this volume contains only the Rossetti introduction and original ads for The Germ.


Folder 5:          The International Studio: Nov. 1915 (v. 57, no. 225);

                                                                        Aug. 1927 (v. 87, no. 363);

                                                                        June 1930 (v. 96, no. 397)


Folder 6:          Moderne Gallery: “Rethinking English Arts and Crafts” : catalog


Folder 7:          Museum exhibits:  Olivetti Co. design (Museum of Modern Art, 1952);

                                                Tradition & Innovation in American Decorative Arts (Yale, 1980):

                                                C.R. Ashbee (Geffrye, 1999);

                                                Galleria Giorgio Franchetti (1965);

                                                North American Print Conference (Winterthur Museum, 1982);

                                                Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum (2007)



Folder 8:          Peterson, P. O., and Peterson, Elizabeth Z.   Writing for the Public Schools, book no. 4 (focuses on letter o) (Wm. O. Peterson, 1947; part of Peterson System of Penmanship Supervision)


Folder 9:          Peverly, Elaine M., and McLin, William H.   The Dummy.  (no place: Wilson’s Printers, 1973). 

About Maine’s first seaside railroad.  Robert Edwards supplied 2 photos for the publication.


Folder 10:        Tiller, v. 1, no. 1 (Sept.-Oct. 1982) and v. 2, no. 1 (Sept.-Oct. 1983)


Folder 11:        Trade catalog: Art furniture designed by Edward W. Godwin and manufactured by William Watt.  Plates 1-3, 5-6, 13, 16 only.

                        [note: a complete issue is in Winterthur Library trade catalogs collection]


Folder 12:        Trade catalog: Stinehour Press: for typefaces Baskerville, Bell, Bembo, Bulmer, Caslon, Centaur & Arrighi, and Janson


Folder 13:        Trade catalogs: Appleton Papers, Inc. (no date, circa 1980?0;

                                                Bradbury & Bradbury Wallpapers (1984);

                                                Hansen Lamps (1960);

                                                Historical Arts and Casting (no date, circa 1990?);

                                                Schumacher (1989);

                                                Tajan (2001)


Folder 14:        Wolf, Tom.   Eva Watson-Schutze: Photographer.  (New Paltz, N.Y.: Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, 2009.)

                        Also a brochure from “Eva Watson-Schutze & Her Circle” exhibit at Woodstock Artists Association, 2009.



Boxes 21-23: printing blocks for Tiller



Box 24: Textiles:


3 pieces of woven fabric, two of which are the same pattern.  One of the patterns was used by Jane Byrd McCall and Ralph Whitehead at Arkady, their California home, but which one is not marked. 



Box 25: oversize (see also Box 9, folder 1)


Folders 1-3:     assorted designs and drawings, including some interior design drawings


Folder 4:          advertisements for Edwards’ business


Folders 5-6:     photographs of Italy, 1883-1884

                                    Places depicted are in Rome, Milan, Florence, Bologna, Venice, Pompeii, Capri, and Lago Maggiore


Folder 7:          sketch for cover of Orchis home furnishings catalog



Map case C, drawer 3:


Photograph from Byrdcliffe community, circa 1990-2000, possibly of White Pines dining room, showing Byrdcliffe furniture: a dining table with fleur-de-lys design and two styles of chairs, one with fleur-de-lys design and the other with a lily; tiled fireplace in background, pottery bowl on table; photo came from estate of Robert Edwards; photographer unknown (accession 14x75)