Society of Designer-Craftsmen : records

Scope and Content

Discussion papers relating to the Society's origins and aims (1886 - 1888, 1913 - 1977); committee minutes (1887 - 1979); exhibition catalogues (1888 - 1969); accounts (1888 - 1977); financial papers (1888 - 1979); administrative papers relating to exhibitions (1888 - 1984); administrative papers (1891 - 1907, 1946 - 1977); membership lists (1893 - 1976); annual reports (1894 - 1975); rules (1894 - 1975); drawing by Henry Payne (1916); leaflets, journals and press cuttings (1919 - 1972); photographs of artwork (1933 - 1970); Crafts Council minutes and rules (1943 - 1974); Artists General Benevolent Institution correspondence (1963 - 1971); Crafts Advisory Committee information leaflets (1964 - 1977); artists' information cards (undated).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society was established in 1887 by members of the Art Workers Guild including Walter Crane and W.A.S. Benson. The first exhibition was held at the New Gallery, Regent Street in 1888. Although its objectives were frequently revised the Society's original rules of 1888 stated that its aims were to hold exhibitions of applied design and handicraft, accompanied by a catalogue, and to arrange lectures by designers and craftsmen. Walter Crane was president of the Society from 1888 to 1912, except for the years 1893 to 1896 when William Morris was president. From the 1890s the Society had an international influence but this had declined by the 1920s. The organisation changed its name to the Society of Designer-Craftsmen in 1961.

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only.

Full details of access arrangements may be found here:

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These restrictions are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here:


Cited in Sweet, M. 'From Combined Arts to Designer Craftsmen: The Archives of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society' in Howes, J. ed. 'Craft History One: Celebrating the centenary of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society' (Bath: Combined Arts, 1988).