Library Table

Maker: William Lightfoot Price (1861–1916)

Date: 1904

Geography: Made in Delaware, Rose Valley, Pennsylvania, United States

Culture: American

Medium: White oak, stained

Dimensions: 29 1/2 x 66 x 39 1/2 in. (74.9 x 167.6 x 100.3 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Sansbury-Mills Fund, 1991

Accession Number: 1991.145


Rose Valley, a utopian Arts and Crafts colony, was founded in 1901 near Moylan, Pennsylvania, by William Lightfoot Price, a Philadelphia architect, with a coterie of his politically liberal colleagues, clients, and friends. Inspired by the advocates of the British Arts and Crafts movement, John Ruskin and William Morris, the community was established for the "manufacture of … materials and products involving artistic handicraft as are used in the finishing, decorating and furnishing of houses," according to its incorporation papers, dated July 17, 1901. Within a year, the Rose Valley Shops were producing furniture designed by Price as well as pottery, metalwork, and bookbindings. Rose Valley furniture is considered rare. At most, a few hundred pieces, each with significantly varying details, were made by a small team of craftsmen before the furniture shop closed in 1906. This trestle-type library table represents the best of Rose Valley production. The "loose" mortise-and-tenon construction, hand-carved Gothic tracery and figural mortise pins, and double-dovetail joints on the table top are all excellent examples of the traditional, handcrafted construction methods that the Arts and Crafts movement advocated and which Price and the Rose Valley Association utilized until 1910, when their idealistic experiment failed. A workshop ledger suggests that Philadelphian George K. Crozer Jr. commissioned it in 1904, only two years before the furniture output--always relatively small--was discontinued.