Over the course of the last year or so, I've really developed a love for vintage copper. It's just so warm and glowy and gorgeous; it has the impact and pizazz of more luxurious metals, but it feels a bit more down-to-earth and approachable. Know what I mean? As I began finding and collecting more an more vintage copper pieces (mostly to sell in the WAV shop, but there have definitely been a few keepers as well!), I started to notice a familiar-looking sticker on the bottom of a number of the pieces I'd found. The sticker read: Coppercraft Guild - Taunton, Mass.
The foil label found on the underside of many Coppercraft Guild pieces.
Something about the word 'guild' paired with the Massachusetts locale conjured up images of turn-of-the-century artisans creating hand-worked copper pieces in some sleepy New England town. While I was happy to go on imagining that was the case for a while, I eventually became curious about the story behind Coppercraft Guild, and what I uncovered might surprise you!
Coppercraft Guild watering can with brass handle and spout - as well as a cute little footed planter on the left.
Founded in 1973 (edit: please see note on dates at the end of this post), Coppercraft Guild was a subsidiary of the Tandy Corporation. Does Tandy sound familiar to you? They were the company that launched RadioShack in 1962, and eventually went on to become one of three major players in the personal computer revolution of 1977 (the others being Apple and Commodore), offering pre-assembled 'micro-computers' intended for home use. Someone at Tandy clearly knew what they were doing when they jumped on board with the personal computer trend - but technology wasn't the only trend Tandy was interested in. In fact, the company also had their eye on the 'network marketing' trend made popular by Tupperware in the 1950s.
Just like Tupperware, Coppercraft Guild equipped their reps with a suitcase full of their copper home goods. Made of solid copper with a special coating to prevent tarnishing, these pieces were focused on design and craftsmanship and were very popular for gift-giving. The sales rep would host a Coppercraft Guild party, inviting friends to check out the samples and then order their own pieces via the hostess's catalogue.
A pair of vintage Coppercraft Guild hanging planters - I love the one with little brass 'feet'!
Though it sounds like a fool-proof plan to me (I would LOVE to attend one of these parties - I'll have to add that to my Time Machine Bucket List!), Coppercraft Guild closed its doors in 1978, just five years after their launch. Though they were short-lived, Coppercraft Guild produced an impressive range of gift ware that has consistently remained popular with collectors over the years, and has only gained popularity with the recent upswing in copper's appearances in design-centric publications and among interior design enthusiasts. What's more, most of this stuff still looks great! Whatever secret ingredient they used in their top-secret coating really did the trick, as it's not uncommon to find these pieces just as bright and shiny and beautiful as they were over 40 years ago. I may not be hosting any copper parties anytime soon, and I (unfortunately) don't have one of those magical sample-filled suitcases, but I can promise you Wise Apple Vintage will continue to stock these beautiful copper pieces for many, many years to come. Click here
to pop on over to the shop and check out what's currently for sale! ** Edit: Since sharing this post, I've received comments and emails from many fellow Coppercraft Guild fans, some of whom once had their very own suitcase full of Coppercraft goodies to sell! Since chatting with these folks, I've come to hear a wide range of dates for the company, opening as early as 1949, and closing dates up until 1983. I'm not an expert on Coppercraft Guild by any means, I'm just a fan and wanted to share the information that my research uncovered.
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A set of roly poly tumblers by Coppercraft Guild - perfect for Moscow Mules!