From the Archive: A Cozy Corner

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A 1910 mailer from Buren & Hamilton, Salem, Oregon.

A 1910 mailer from Buren & Hamilton, Salem, Oregon.

Mailed to schoolteacher–carpenter Andrew Fery in the hamlet of Aumsville, Oregon (pop. then 100), this postcard illustrates how the Arts & Crafts movement—or retail versions of it—reached even rural American homes.

A century later, a marketing message reveals the human side of the movement through quaint copy and stylish if eclectic clutter. The poetically inclined will find in the text insights into the “mild protest against…custom” and “instinctive longing” that kept “The ‘Den’ or cozy corner”—a Victorian concept by then nearly three decades old—still “something of a hobby, but more than a fad.”

Meanwhile, those who prefer history delivered visually may feast your eyes on the quirky stylistic stew featuring Gothic, Germanic, medieval, and Art Nouveau ingredients. The exotica show just how mixed Arts & Crafts could be for the public (though such home cooking probably left a bitter aftertaste for movement purists).

In an era known for marketing décor to the ladies, this card serves up plenty that is masculine. For every tea set, embroidered table scarf, and plush pillow there is a pipe rack, an armorial tableau, or a rustic lantern. Perhaps it was the decorated footpad, unusual and gender-neutral, that made the corner cozy for all parties.