Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Premieres Monday, November 23 at 10PM
check local listings
Elbert Hubbard: An American Original - WNED | PBS

Early Artisans

Walter Jennings

Walter Jennings, Karl Kipp, and a Fellow Copper Chaser Walter Jennings, Karl Kipp,
and a Fellow Copper Chaser
Courtesy of the Roycroft Arts Museum

Walter Upham Jennings (American, 1878 – 1963)

Born: Weston, Massachusetts
Died: Buffalo, New York

Walter Jennings, a member of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts who worked in various media, was best known for his copper wares. One of some 400 craftsmen who worked at Roycroft, Jennings was an Elbert Hubbard devotee, adopting his philosophy down to the use of his signature flowing tie.

Jennings was born and raised in Weston, Massachusetts. His early career was in the textile industry. He worked in Boston, Massachusetts and Woonsocket, Rhode Island and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Roycroft Copper Roycroft Copper
From An American Original

In 1906, while living in Troy, New York, Jennings discovered a copy of Elbert Hubbard's The Philistine. Intrigued by what he read, he became a subscriber. By 1908, Jennings was lured to East Aurora where he found work in the Roycroft bindery. He soon became a master bookbinder. The following year, the Roycroft blacksmith shop developed into a copper shop, and Jennings left to work in the new enterprise. There, Jennings became a master chaser, one who hammers ornaments or chased work in metal, and he developed an outstanding reputation for his designs and the overall craftsmanship of his artwork and his jewelry.

Walter Jennings Copper Rose Roycroft Copper
From An American Original

In 1911, Jennings left Roycroft to work for Karl Kipp, a fellow Roycroft artisan who founded another copper shop in East Aurora named Tookay after Kipp's initials. In 1915, after Elbert and Alice Hubbard’s deaths on the RMS Lusitania, Elbert Hubbard II convinced Walter Jennings and Karl Kipp to return to Roycroft.

The Roycroft Copper Shop continued production until the 1930's, long after public tastes had shifted away from Arts and Crafts and hammered copper had fallen out of favor.

Jennings and his family lived very modestly, almost to the brink of poverty. In all his years at Roycroft, he also maintained a studio out of his home, selling his works through the Boston, Detroit and Philadelphia Arts and Crafts. Walter Jennings continued work in his home studio where died in April 1963.

Copyright © 2014 WNED All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy - Terms of Use

Funding for Elbert Hubbard: An American Original provided by The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation
Elbert Hubbard: An American Original is a production of WNED-TV
WNED