The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera
Henry Francis du Pont
5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Delaware 19735
Telephone: 302-888-4600 or 800-448-3883
OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTION
Creator: Edwards, Robert, 1945-2014
Title: Robert Edwards research and business papers
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.
SCOPE AND CONTENT
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.
LANGUAGE OF MATERIALS
The materials are in English.
RESTRICTIONS ON ACCESS
Collection is open to the public. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Gift of the estate of Robert Edwards.
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.
Arts and crafts movement.
Decoration and ornament - 19th century.
Decoration and ornament - 20th century.
Furniture, Mission - Photographs.
Selling - Antiques.
Wallpaper - Specimens.
Rose Valley (Pa.) - History.
Italy – Photographs – 19th century.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE COLLECTION
Location: 41 C 1, D 1-3, E 1
Note: all items are from accession 15x15 unless otherwise noted
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
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”
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
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]
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)
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
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
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)
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 www.AmericanDecorativeArt.com”
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?);
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)