Charles Hall came to the organization in 1928 at the age of fifty. By the end of the following year he was the subject of a feature article in the Buffalo Evening News which referred to him as being "world famous". Certainly, to the extent that some of the Roycroft visitors from all over the world brought and proudly carried away his carved pieces, this was so. From small plaques, to decorative screens to beautiful carved chests, his one-man output was quickly snapped up. From the information gathered thus far it can be seen that Charles Hall was a very prolific carver. This can be seen from the examples shown further along in this website.
Thanks to the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library Special Collections Department I was able to obtain a copy of the afore mentioned article. On December 12, 1929 the Buffalo Evening News published an article that featured Charles S. Hall. The title on the article was "Famous Wood Carver of East Aurora". It included a photo of a carving that Hall did of the old school in Prattsburg where he attended as a boy. The carving was done on a desk top that was salvaged from the school. Another photo showed Hall at work at a carving bench. A second article (by Rile Prosser) from the same date (probably printed inside the paper) was titled "Kidnaped When 7 Years Old Hall Becomes Famous Carver". The complete text follows:
Kidnaped When 7 Years Old Hall Becomes Famous Carver Boy Who Worked by Candle Light After Captors Had Retired Becomes, at 51, World Famous Artist.
To be kidnaped at the age of seven, then for seven years forced by his captors to heavy labor on a farm, should have destroyed all desires for the artistic aspirations of Charles S. Hall of East Aurora. Nevertheless his artistic talents surmounted the obstacles until today he is classed as a wood carver extraordinary.
Hall was born 51 years ago near Prattsburg. He went to East Aurora from Tyrone to become a Roycrofter. Hall has carved from wood many historical ruins and scenes in Westerern New York. His style of carving is said to be especially adapted to historical subjects.
"As long ago as I can recall, I was eager to pick out the beautiful in the fields and woods," said Mr. Hall. "For years I dreamed of making great paintings. Opportunity passed me in early life. I was just a bit of a lad when kidnaped. Standing along the road near my home one day, strangers caught me and carried me far away. I never, after that day, saw my parents. It was six years ago that I learned that they had died when I was about 13 years old.
"My captors made me work on their farm until I was 14," continued Mr. Hall. "They tried to stifle all my desires in drawing and carving. My room was in the attic. Many a night after my captors had retired, I would get out of bed, and draw and carve by the aid of a candle light. When I was 14 they 'bound-me-out' to a neighboring farmer. Here I was treated more kindly and offered greater opportunities to enjoy my craving to sketch and carve."
Instead of becomming a painter, Hall, for financial reasons, became a wood carver. Almost every boy in those days carried a jack-knife. Even today Mr. Hall used a jack-knife in 70 per cent of his work.
Hall claims perspective is the main thing in pictorial sculpture, as he calls his wood carving. He used three-eights inch relief with a special method of finish and the natural grain of the wood to bring out the effect of pronounced depth. Contrast shading is due to an acid finish he has developed. His work is original. A pencil sketch is made of the subject. He then carves from the sketch, afterward destroying the sketch of the subject. Hall claims the work is permanent. After years of exposure his carvings maintain their original luster. He was for five years engaged in doing releif work at St. Matthews Church in Moravia (NY).
Hall, in 1909, visited the old school building, 1½ miles north of Prattsburg, where he attended school before he was stolen from his home. He discovered the old building partially in ruins. A sketch was made of the old place. A neighboring school trustee gave Hall permission to remove the desk top that he used while in the school. This top he has used as a frame for the carving of the old building. Crudely engraved on the desk top are many initials. Hall discovered the initials "L. T. C." on it. "Those initials were carved by Lyman T. Chappell," said Hall. "He and I sat at the double desk. I learned recently that Chappell became a prominent lawyer in New York. I understand he is now dead.
One of the pictorial sculptures, depicts a stream with a hooked fish leaping from the water. This carving has been displayed by the Izaac Walton league throughout the country. Another of his prized reliefs shows the old boat landing as it appeared 20 years ago at Prattsburg - on Keuka Lake. The picture of this carving was provided by Charles' grandson and may be the boat landing referenced in the article. Many of Hall's historical scenes are carved on chests, fireplaces and panels. He has been offered fabulous prices for several of his reliefs, but declines to part with them.
Another article, this one in the Buffalo Courier Express from June 29, 1930, indicated that Charles Hall received a commission for carving at Cornell. The text was:
Roycroft Artist Gets Commission on Cornell Work
Penn Yan, June 28—Charles S. Hall, Tyrone, expert carver of wood, has been commissioned to execute the carvings for the new plant industry building at Cornell University, Ithaca. The Tyrone artist is in charge of the designing and wood carving department at Roycroft, East Aurora. He has carved the work for several churches in New York state.