Elbert Green Hubbard (1856 – 1915) American furniture designer

Elbert Green Hubbard black and white picture
Elbert Green Hubbard black and white picture

Elbert Green Hubbard (1856 – 1915) was an American furniture designer. Hubbard met William Morris in 1894 and the following year inspired by Morris’s Kelmscott Press, founded the Roycroft Press’ East Aurora, near Buffalo, New York. He was the founder of the Roycrofters, an Arts and Crafts community; he organized workshops, lectured, and wrote as a highly effective champion of the Arts and Crafts philosophy.

Religious Beliefs

Hubbard identified as a socialist and anarchist. He was an advocate for social, economic, domestic, political, mental, and spiritual liberty. In A Message to Garcia and Thirteen Other Things (1901), Hubbard explained his Credo by writing “I believe John Ruskin, William Morris, Henry Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Leo Tolstoy to be Prophets of God, and they should rank in mental reach and spiritual insight with Elijah, Hosea, Ezekiel and Isaiah.” Nonetheless, with his pro-business and anti-union sentiments, frequent themes across his works suggest he had strong capitalist sentiments.

In the booklet Jesus Was An Anarchist, Hubbard addressed a critique of war, law, and government (1910). Ernest Howard Crosby called Hubbard’s piece “the best thing Elbert ever wrote” when it was first published as The Better Part in A Message to Garcia and Thirteen Other Things.

“Do not take life too seriously; you will never get out of it alive.”

Elbert Hubbard

Roycroft community

In 1894, Hubbard began his quest to become an American counterpart to William Morris. Hubbard purchased a property in the centre of the rural town of East Aurora, a few kilometres east of Buffalo, New York and created Roycroft. There were more than 400 people in the utopian Roycroft community, based on the British Arts and Crafts movement, but with a commercial slant of its own.

There are two theories on his name choice. The word “roycroft” comes from the French words for craft and “roi’ of king. Literally, it would refer to royal artisans whose handiwork was fit for a King. Other historians believe Hubbard chose the name to honour 17th century printers Samuel and Thomas Roycroft. The fact that his first endeavour was publishing supports this theory.

The Roycrofters operated a restaurant which served the-many tourists who discovered its activities through its publications (Little Journey’s pamphlets, The Philistine monthly journal, and mail-order catalogues advertising gift items and souvenirs). His son Elbert Hubbard Jr. became director of the Roycrofters until the community closed in 1938.

Antique embossed 3-piece mixed products
Antique embossed 3-piece mixed products
Mahogany Cellarette made at Roycroft
Mahogany Cellarette made at Roycroft

Death

The Hubbards boarded the RMS Lusitania in New York City a little more than three years after the Titanic sank. The ship was torpedoed and sunk by the German U-boat U-20 on May 7, 1915, while at sea 11 miles (18 kilometres) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, April 13). Elbert Hubbard. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:19, May 28, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Elbert_Hubbard&oldid=1017643362

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