Barbara Cowles collection on Shop One

RIT Archives

Table of Contents

Collection Overview
Biographical/Historical Information
Scope and Content
Additional Finding Aids
Subject Headings
Information for Researchers
Administrative Information
Related Materials

Collection Overview (Collapse)

Barbara Cowles collection on  Shop One
Cowles, Barbara
Inclusive Date(s)
The Barbara Cowles collection on Shop One contains materials about the retail store that featured handmade crafts by RIT professors, as well as other craftsmen in the Rochester area and beyond. Included are posters, news clippings, exhibition announcements, photographs, digital images and HTML pages from a website about Shop One (no longer live on web).
1.5 Linear feet (3 boxes)
C.S. South, Shelf 340
C.S. North, Reading Room, Drawer 1
RIT Archive Collections
RIT Libraries
Wallace Center
90 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, New York, 14623
(585) 475-2557

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Biographical/Historical Information (Collapse)

Shop One was a retail craft outlet located in a remodeled carriage house at 77 Troup Street, Rochester, New York. This shop was established by three professors from the School for American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York. Metalsmith John Prip, cabinet maker Tage Frid and ceramist Frans Wildenhain recognized the need for a retail outlet for their work - a shop they could control, but one that did not demand much individual attention. This initial group was later joined by metalsmith Ronald Pearson, a former student of the School for American Craftsmen.

As professors, their time was divided between teaching and producing work, limiting opportunities to sell their work. Shop One provided the best solution to their predicament. Wildenhain acted as a mentor in this endeavor; he had previous experience building and maintaining a small business.

Shop One was the only retail outlet in the Rochester area that exclusively sold handwork. Once the shop was underway, local craftsmen were invited to become associate members. Some of these craftsmen were nationally recognized in their field, such as metalsmith Hans Christiansen. Those represented in Shop One were among the best craftsmen in the Rochester area.

Shop One integrated characteristics of an elegant apartment into a gallery setting. In this environment customers were able to visualize these unique objects in their own homes. Prip, Pearson, Frid and Wildenhain hoped this would establish a connection between object, maker and customer.

One of the rooms in Shop One housed jewelry and raised silver, most of which was produced by Ronald Pearson and John Prip. Due to the large quantity of custom jewelry work, they established a studio in the same building, making them more accessible to customers, yet independent of the store. Prip and Pearson designed their jewelry to maintain a steady turnover. Merchandise that did not sell in Shop One was sold to out-of-town stores.

Shop One opened in 1952 and remained in business until 1976.

Barabra Cowles was the manager of Shop One from 1970-1975. She was married to potter Hobart Cowles a professor at RIT. Barbara Cowles is also a published author.

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Scope and Content (Collapse)

Barbara Cowles collection on Shop One contains historical documentation on the retail store located in Rochester, New York from the 1950s until the 1970s, where crafts made by local artists were sold. Barbara Cowles worked at Shop One for many years. Her records include correspondence from to artists inviting them to exhibit at Shop One, artists' biographies and news clippings about exhibits at Shop One. Also included are 107 digital images and 29 HTML pages from a Shop One website created by Barbara Cowles which is no longer available publicly. Two copies of a poster advertising Shop1 were donated at a later date.

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Arrangement (Collapse)

Materials are arranged in three boxes in chronological order. Posters are stored in a drawer.

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Additional Finding Aids (Collapse)

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

Barbara Cowles collection on Shop One

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Subject Headings (Collapse)

Personal Name(s)

  • Cowles, Barbara
  • Frid, Tage
  • Markusen, Thomas
  • Myers, Joel Philip, 1934-
  • Pearson, Ronald Hayes
  • Prip, John
  • Webb, Aileen O.
  • Wildenhain, Frans, 1905-

Corporate Name(s)

  • Rochester Institute of Technology. School for American Craftsmen.
  • Shop One (Rochester, N.Y.).


  • Crafts (art genres)
  • Exhibitions -- New York (State) -- Rochester
  • Handicraft -- Study and teaching -- New York (State)
  • Stores, retail -- New York (State) -- Rochester
  • Web site development


  • Announcements
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Digital images
  • Photographs

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Information for Researchers (Collapse)

Preferred Citation

Barbara Cowles collection on Shop One, RIT Archive Collections

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open to researchers.

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Administrative Information (Collapse)

Collection ID


Accession Information



Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated to the RIT Archives by Barbara Cowles in 2012.

The poster was donated by Tom Markhusen in 2014.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in March 2013.

Revision Description

 Lisa Witt added gift box and posters to the collection. 03 Septmeber 2014

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Related Materials (Collapse)

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Bibliography (Collapse)

"Selling crafts at mid-century: moving the merch at Shop One," by Bruce A. Austin in: Frans Wildenhain, 1950-75 : creative and commercial American ceramics at mid-century , edited by Bruce A. Austin ; photography by A. Sue Weisler ; with essays by Jonathan Clancy and Becky Simmons. Rochester, NY : Bruce A. Austin, c2012.

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