Handwrought vs. Machine-Made Objects -- The Arts & Crafts movement was started partly in response to the wave of cookie-cutter products being stamped out identically by machines, and the sterility of such items compared to similar objects fashioned by hand.
Frank Gardner Hale, one of the luminaries of the Arts & Crafts movement, addressed this topic in a 1927 speech in Boston to the annual convention of the American Federation of Arts. In this speech he called the sameness of machine output "a nauseating thought" and warned of the "danger of losing our vision" by undervaluing objects "wrought by men who had a pride in their achievements and were not members of a trade union, which guaranteed them their wages regardless of the character and quality of their work." Or, as he put it:
"…one of the great differences between the machine and the craftsman is that the machine, when once started, must finish the original pattern without a change or an idea added, whereas the craftsman, as he works, finds he can add to or take away from his original scheme and thereby make it lovelier thing. The result is the personal expression of the maker, and not a repetition of a never-ending design."
He admitted that machines have "added very greatly to the wealth of our country" but said he "would rather possess one chair finely made and beautifully proportioned by a real craftsman than have a dozen pressed out by machinery." The full text of this speech is below.