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Barbara Cowles collection on Shop One

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITArc-0450

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Creation: 1953-1978


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

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.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)




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).


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

Physical Location

C.S. South, Shelf 340
C.S. North, Reading Room, Drawer 1

Other Finding Aids

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

Immediate 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.



  • "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.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in March 2013.

Barbara Cowles collection on Shop One
RIT Archives
Jody Sidlauksas
8 March 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA