Copeland jewelry box tops Arts and Crafts treasures at California Historical Design March 23-24

Silver and enamel box by Elizabeth Copeland, estimated at $15,000-$20,000 at California Historical Design.

ALAMEDA, Calif. – A fine example of the work of the Boston Arts and Crafts enameler Elizabeth Ethel Copeland (1866-1957) leads the lineup at California Historical Design this month. The hand-hammered silver and enamel jewelry box carries an estimate of $15,000-$20,000 as part of the Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 sale titled Stickley Arts and Crafts Auction. The catalog is now open for bidding on LiveAuctioneers.

Simply signed with the raised initials EC and dated to circa 1905, this 4.5-by-3.5in casket is a relatively early example from the prime period when Copeland was first exhibiting. Famously, she had hidden away her artistic ambitions for years while working at her family’s dairy farm, but in 1901, at the age of 35, attracted the patronage of the Arts and Crafts artist and benefactor Sarah Choate Sears. In 1906 Irene Sargent, writing in The Keystone, had commented: “The traditional figure of the enamelist is masculine. Miss Copeland working at her furnace possesses attractions quite other than those belonging to the woman who paints a portrait or who illustrates a book.” Her signature technique, which created an enamel surface resembling cabochon gemstone, is seen to good effect on this well-preserved box.

Some choice examples of American Arts and Crafts furniture on offer include a Gustav Stickley roll-top desk that descended in the same Milwaukee family for four generations. Originally selling for $115 in 1904, this model, number 713, was one of the most expensive in the Gustav Stickley catalog. This furnishing, with an ‘excellent original finish’, is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.

Also dated circa 1905 is a Roycroft Double Morris chair, estimated at $15,000-$20,000. Again, retaining an ‘excellent original finish’ according to the lot notes, this chair was formerly in the collection of Christopher ‘Kip’ Forbes and last sold at Rago in October 2012.