"The importance of Ernest Batchelder as an Arts and Crafts tilemaker cannot be overstated. For his innovation in design, his entrepreneurial spirit, his living his life true to the principles that he espoused, he is a man to be admired by all generations."
--Joseph A. Taylor, Tile Heritage Foundation
"Ernest Batchelder is representation of the many talented individuals who were drawn to Pasadena and the Arroyo Seco at the turn of the century. In this book Robert Winter has captured his independent spirit."
--Sue Schechter, Chair, California State Historical Resources Commission
"This first comprehensive look at Ernest Batchelder's successful tile-making enterprise is long overdue. Batchelder's essays on Arts and Crafts design theory reached a national audience in his time, and continue to inform the contemporary revival of the movement today. Dr. Winter brings careful scholarship, lively writing, and a long-nurtured passion to his subject."
--Edward R. Bosley, James N. Gamble Director, The Gamble House, Pasadena, California
Robert Winters masterful and much-needed new book establishes Ernest Batchelder as a giant of the great age of American decorative tile making and a key figure in the history of design within the Arts and Crafts movement.
--Cleota Reed, Syracuse University, author Henry Chapman Mercer and the
Moravian Tile Works
Ernest Batchelder's ceramic tile making enterprise began as a modest backyard venture in rural Pasadena, California but quickly grew to prominence far beyond. New York, Minneapolis and Vancouver would soon become host to major Batchelder architectural ceramic installations. His clients ranged from restaurants to churches to high-rise office buildings but perhaps the most striking installations remain the many fireplaces gracing modest American bungalows throughout the country.
In 1908 this enterprising young man left a prestigious teaching position to start his own school and factory with the goal of establishing a West Coast guild of craftsmen joined by the Arts and Crafts ideal of dignity in hand labor. Although an artistic idealist, Batchelder did not neglect the financial affairs of his business. By 1930, the Batchelder-Wilson Company had showrooms in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco as well as representation in virtually every major city in the United States. Batchelder remained the preeminent leader of handmade tiles in the West until the Depression forced the closure of his operations in 1932.
Those among us who appreciate fine craftsmanship can imagine the glow of a crackling fire on those mellow earthenware tiles while we reflect upon the ideals that guided this man's remarkable life.
Award-winning historian and author Robert W. Winter is the Arthur G. Coons Professor of the History of Ideas at Occidental College where he chaired its History and History of Civilization programs for 12 years. His many books include American Bungalow Style (Simon & Schuster), Hidden LA (Peregrine Smith), Toward a Simpler Way of Life: Arts and Crafts Architects of California (UC Press), and the multiple editions of the seminal Guides to Architecture in Los Angeles and San Francisco (Peregrine Smith). The governor has appointed him to the California State Historic Resources Commission. A scholar of the Arts and Crafts movement, Dr. Winter has lived in Ernest Batchelder's bungalow in Pasadena, California for 20 years.