The Roycroft community of artisans, founded by Elbert Hubbard, operated a printing press and built handmade furniture between 1895 and 1938 in East Aurora, N.Y. Most Roycroft pieces are easily identified by either the orb and cross insignia or the incised "Roycroft" name.
Hubbard selected the name Roycroft in honor of the 17th century printers Samuel and Thomas Roycroft. The Roycroft insignia was borrowed from the monk Cassidorius, a 13th century bookbinder and illuminator.
The construction style of Roycroft furniture uses high-quality wood joined by pegs, pins and mortise-and-tenon joints. A 1904 Roycroft furniture catalog states that the workers' aim in making furniture was to embody three elements in each piece: simplicity of design, the highest quality of workmanship and durability.
Sometime during the early part of the 20th century, the internationally known lecturer, publisher and essayist Hubbard became friends with B.J. Palmer. Even before their friendship began, it is probable that B.J. started acquiring Roycroft furniture for his home and school through catalogs distributed nationwide.
In 1914, Hubbard signed B.J.'s personal guest book with this message: "I believe in chiropractic, I believe in B.J.P., I believe in Mrs. B.J.P., I believe in work, laughter, play, study and love."
A year later, Hubbard and his wife died when the Lusitania was sunk. B.J. purchased a six-foot nine-inch clock from the estate, believed to be the first piece of furniture the Roycroft artisans ever designed. He had the word "chiropractic" added to the outside copper clock face. Its 12 letters correspond to the 12 hours hammered on the face's inside circle. The clock is exhibited in the David D. Palmer Health Sciences Library’s Special Collections area.
The durability of the furniture is witnessed by the daily use of 45 arm chairs that are scattered throughout the campus. Engraved on the backs of these chairs are the names of individuals or organizations who supported the Palmer School of Chiropractic. Although no records have been found, it is believed that the chairs were part of a fund-raising program in the 1920s. A long settle (a bench with a backrest) has found a home in the Campus Health Center.
Other Roycroft pieces in the Palmer collection include a bedroom set, a Morris chair, a split-log bench built by a Roycrofter named Ali Baba, a number of sign and mottos, and two copper lamps.
Provided by Glenda Wiese, Ph.D., Former Archivist, David D. Palmer Health Sciences Library