Roycroft: Life in Abundance, The Collection of Richard Blacher Part I

Wednesday, Aug 23, 2023 10 am – 2 pm

1440 W. Hubbard
Chicago, IL 60642

Rago and Toomey & Co. are pleased to announce Roycroft: Life in Abundance, The Collection of Richard Blacher. This two-part presentation on August 23rd is dedicated to the exquisite craftsmanship of The Roycrofters. The second installment of the auction catalog will be available in the coming days. From beautiful publications to an impressive selection of bookends, and an assortment of furniture and lighting, Richard Blacher amassed a stunning and comprehensive collection that captures the spirit of this significant community within the Arts & Crafts movement.

Auction / Chicago
23 August 2023
10 am central

Preview / Chicago
16 – 23 August 2023
10 am – 4 pm, Monday – Friday
or by appointment



view lots



Founded in East Aurora, New York by salesman Elbert Hubbard in late 1894, the Roycroft reformist community—whose members were known as Roycrofters—became a hub for the production of texts, decorative arts, furniture, lighting, metalwork, and more in the burgeoning Arts & Craft tradition. Influenced by the teachings of English Arts & Crafts artist and designer William Morris, and a visit with Morris in London, Hubbard founded the Roycroft Press to publish his own writings; this effort would swiftly grow into a full-fledged art colony that at its peak comprised fourteen buildings and employed more than 500 people.

In his dedication to the legacy of Roycroft, Richard Blacher gathered a wide range of historical objects from this extraordinary community and the man who started what is now known as the Roycroft movement. Leading the auction are several texts, including an Author's Edition of The Complete Writings of Elbert Hubbard (est. $20,000-30,000), commissioned in 1915 by the wife of William Fox, founder of the 20th Century Fox film studio. The offering also features many other rare, handmade books, such as An Appreciation of Thomas W. Lawson with Roycroft presentation box, authored by the Citizens of Albert Lea (est. $20,000-30,000), an elaborate version of The Last Ride by Robert Browning (est. $7,500-10,000), and multiple copies of Henry David Thoreau's Friendship — all of which showcase the magnificent artistry of master bookbinder Louis Kinder.


Robert BrowningThe Last Ride1900
bound book, Classic vellum, silk7¾ h × 5¾ w × ½ d in (20 × 15 × 1 cm)estimate: $7,500–10,000



Many examples of the Roycrofters' fine craftsmanship are represented, including lighting, bookends, jewelry, ephemera, and other accoutrements. Among the examples of the community's copperwork are a pair of Rare Old Willow Stump bookends (est. $2,000-2,500) designed and executed by Victor Toothaker, a Rare adjustable reading stand (est. $3,000-$4,000), and a Large and Rare tray with poppies (est. $3,000-4,000). An exquisite example of Roycroft's collaborative ethos, the Table lamp, model 905 (est. $7,500-10,000) was created circa 1925 with a handwrought copper base attributed to Victor Toothaker and a leaded slag glass shade designed by Dard Hunter.