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Gustav Stickley Furniture of 1900 | Gustav Stickley Furniture of 1901 | Gustav Stickley Furniture of 1902

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Gustav Stickley Furniture of 1900 : “New Work”

Prior to 1900, Gustav Stickley produced a line of quality machine carved furniture typical of Victorian era manufacturers. In 1900, through the Tobey Furniture Company of Chicago, Gustav Stickley introduced a catalog titled “New Work”, which represented his first efforts at designing and manufacturing Arts & Crafts furniture. Sources as diverse as American Colonial furniture, Art Nouveau, Oriental furniture, and Gustav Stickley’s New York contemporary, Charles Rohlfs, influenced these designs.

Limited largely to chairs, small benches, small stands, and a few small cabinets, the “New Work” catalog represented the beginnings of Stickley’s career as a champion of the Arts & Crafts movement. These items are fascinating because they show the transition of Stickley’s aesthetic sensibilities from Victorian towards Arts & Crafts. Some of the designs from this period are awful, others are delightful, and others are surprisingly modern.

In 1900, this was a new and untested line, and Stickley was a small manufacturer without a large national distribution channel, so production was limited. Many of these pieces are also small and fragile and were not saved over the years. As a result, pieces from this period are quite rare compared to other furniture made by Gustav Stickley. The only two forms from this period that are reasonably easy to find are the chalet desk and the chalet magazine stand (also called the tree of life stand, although typically this stand is found with a side carving different than the carving illustrated in the catalog).

While quite rare, most pieces in this line can be purchased for several thousand dollars or less when they come to market. The exceptions tend to be the flower style stands, the three-legged tables, and the better of the stands with Grueby tile tops. A Stickley chalet plant stand no. 6 from 1900, with inset Grueby tile, recently brought over $100,000 at auction.

All the photographs in this article appear courtesy of Craftsman Auctions, www.craftsman-auctions.com, where auction prices on these and other Gustav Stickley items can be researched.

Figures 1 to 3 show examples of flower form tables that may have been inspired by Charles Rohlfs. Nothing remotely similar to these tables was made after 1900.

Figures 4 and 5 show a small desk and cabinet. Both have raised panel centers, a feature that disappeared from Stickley’s work after 1900, and shelves with keyed through-tenons.

The Cottage Plant Stand, as illustrated in figure 6, had spool legs, hearkening back to Colonial styles. Embellishments like turned legs and carvings, were dropped by Stickley after 1900.

The Bungalow Dining Chair, shown in figure 7, is one of the most interesting pieces produced by Stickley in 1900, as it is wonderfully proportioned, visually complete, and maintains a perfect balance between simplicity and complexity.

The three-legged chalet table was made both as a large stand and as a tabouret. These tables are the ultimate in simplicity and balance, and prescient in their expression of modernist design.

 
Gustav Stickley Poppy Table
figure 1
Stickley Poppy Table
Gustav Stickley Foxglove Tabouret
figure 2
Stickley Foxglove Tabouret




Gustav Stickley Foxglove Celandine Tea Table
figure 3
Celandine Tea Table
Gustav Stickley Chalet Desk
figure 4
Stickley Chalet Desk




Gustav Stickley Somkers Cabinet
figure 5
Chalet Smoker’s Cabinet
Gustav Stickley Cottage Plant Stand
figure 6
Cottage Plant Stand




Bungalow Dining Chair
figure 7
Bungalow Dining Chair
Chalet Table
figure 8
Chalet Table, large size