How to Identify Old Stickley Furniture

Are you curious about how to identify old Stickley furniture? Look no further! In this article, we’ll show you the ropes.

You’ll learn all about Stickley Furniture History, understanding the different styles, examining construction techniques, identifying labels and marks, assessing wood and finish, analyzing joinery and hardware, studying design elements and details, researching catalogs and advertisements, and consulting experts and appraisers.

Get ready to become a pro at spotting genuine Stickley pieces!

Stickley Furniture History

To understand the origins and evolution of Stickley furniture, you need to delve into its rich history. Stickley furniture has a long and storied past, dating back to the late 19th century. It all began with Gustav Stickley, a visionary furniture maker who believed in the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Gustav Stickley was born in Wisconsin in 1858, and he started his career in the furniture industry in the 1880s. He was greatly influenced by the British Arts and Crafts movement, which emphasized craftsmanship, simplicity, and the use of natural materials. Stickley was inspired to create furniture that wasn’t only functional but also beautiful and well-made.

In 1898, Stickley founded his own company, Stickley Brothers Furniture Co., which later became known as Stickley Furniture. The company quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality, handcrafted furniture. Stickley’s designs were characterized by clean lines, solid construction, and a focus on the natural beauty of the wood.

Over the years, Stickley furniture evolved to reflect changing tastes and design trends. In the early 20th century, Stickley introduced the iconic Mission style, which featured simple, straight lines and a utilitarian aesthetic. This style became synonymous with Stickley furniture and remains popular to this day.

In the 1950s, Stickley furniture underwent a revival, thanks to the efforts of Leopold Stickley, Gustav’s grandson. Leopold reintroduced classic Stickley designs and expanded the company’s product line.

Today, Stickley furniture continues to be crafted with the same dedication to quality and craftsmanship that Gustav Stickley envisioned over a century ago. Each piece is still made by skilled artisans using traditional techniques, ensuring that the legacy of Stickley furniture lives on.

Understanding Stickley Furniture Styles

To understand Stickley furniture styles, you need to look out for key distinguishing features. These features include the use of quarter sawn oak, exposed joinery, and handcrafted details.

Stickley furniture styles have also evolved over time, with different periods showcasing distinct design elements and influences.

Key Distinguishing Features

Identifying old Stickley furniture can be accomplished by recognizing its key distinguishing features. These features not only help to determine the authenticity of the piece but also provide insight into its style and era.

Here are some key characteristics to look for:

  • Construction: Stickley furniture is known for its sturdy construction, often featuring mortise and tenon joints and solid wood construction.
  • Design: Stickley furniture is typically characterized by clean lines and simple, functional designs. Look for pieces with straight legs, flat panels, and geometric patterns.
  • Finishes: Stickley furniture is often finished in a warm, natural tone, showcasing the natural beauty of the wood. Look for finishes that are hand-rubbed and show signs of wear and patina.
  • Markings: Stickley furniture is usually marked with a signature or label. Look for the Stickley Brothers or L. & J.G. Stickley labels, as well as any other identifying marks or stamps.

Evolution of Stickley Styles

As you delve deeper into the world of identifying old Stickley furniture, it’s important to understand the evolution of Stickley styles and gain a deeper appreciation for the different furniture styles that emerged over time.

Stickley furniture styles have evolved over the years, reflecting changing trends and influences. The early Stickley furniture, produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was characterized by simple, solid construction and a focus on function over ornamentation. This style, known as Craftsman or Mission style, emphasized clean lines, natural materials, and handcrafted details.

As time went on, Stickley furniture styles began to incorporate more intricate designs and decorative elements, such as inlays and carvings. The Stickley brothers also experimented with different wood species and finishes, creating unique and distinctive pieces.

Understanding the evolution of Stickley styles can help you recognize and appreciate the different periods of Stickley furniture.

Examining the Construction Techniques

Examine the joints and craftsmanship to determine if a piece of furniture is an old Stickley. Stickley furniture is known for its high-quality construction techniques, which have remained consistent over the years. By examining the construction techniques used in a piece of furniture, you can gain valuable insights into its age and authenticity.

Here are some key aspects to look for when examining the construction techniques of old Stickley furniture:

  • Dovetail Joints: Old Stickley furniture often features dovetail joints, which are strong and durable. Look for tightly interlocking joints with visible dovetail shapes.
  • Mortise and Tenon Joints: Another common construction technique in old Stickley furniture is the use of mortise and tenon joints. These joints involve a projection (tenon) fitting into a hole (mortise), creating a sturdy connection.
  • Hand-Cut Joinery: Old Stickley furniture is known for its meticulous craftsmanship. Look for signs of hand-cut joinery, such as slight variations in size and shape, indicating that the piece was handmade.
  • Solid Wood Construction: Stickley furniture is typically made from solid wood, rather than veneers or plywood. Inspect the piece closely to ensure that it’s made entirely from solid wood.

Identifying Stickley Furniture Labels and Marks

Take a close look at the labels and marks on the furniture to easily identify Stickley pieces. These labels and marks can provide valuable information about the age, authenticity, and origin of the furniture. Stickley furniture labels and marks have evolved over the years, and knowing how to recognize them can help you determine the value and quality of the piece you have or are considering purchasing.

One of the most iconic Stickley labels is the ‘Als Ik Kan’ label, which translates to ‘to the best of my ability’ in Dutch. This label was used from 1901 to 1916 and is often found on early Stickley furniture.

Another label to look out for is the ‘Quaint’ label, which was used from 1902 to 1916 and features a stylized ‘Q’ and the words ‘Quaint Furniture’ below it. This label was used for Stickley’s line of Arts and Crafts furniture.

In addition to labels, Stickley furniture may also have marks that indicate the manufacturer or the specific line of furniture. For example, the ‘Stickley Brothers’ mark was used by the Stickley Brothers Company from 1891 to 1903. It features the words ‘Stickley Bros. Co.’ in a circular design.

Another mark to be aware of is the ‘Stickley Handcraft’ mark, which was used from 1904 to 1955. It features the words ‘Stickley Handcraft’ in a rectangular design.

By carefully examining the labels and marks on Stickley furniture, you can gain valuable insights into its history and authenticity. This knowledge not only enhances your appreciation for the piece but also helps you make informed decisions when buying or selling Stickley furniture.

Assessing the Wood and Finish

Inspecting the wood and finish is crucial when determining the authenticity and condition of old Stickley furniture. By carefully examining these aspects, you can gain valuable insights into the age and quality of the piece. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Wood type: Stickley furniture is typically made from high-quality, solid wood such as oak, cherry, or mahogany. Look for the distinctive grain patterns and characteristics of these woods. Avoid pieces that are made from veneer or laminate, as they’re likely not authentic Stickley.
  • Finish: Stickley furniture is known for its hand-applied finishes, which enhance the natural beauty of the wood. Look for signs of wear and patina that indicate age and authenticity. Avoid pieces that have a uniform, factory-produced finish, as they may be reproductions.
  • Color and tone: Stickley furniture often features warm, rich colors that deepen with age. Pay attention to the overall color and tone of the piece. Look for variations and subtle changes in hue that occur naturally over time.
  • Signs of craftsmanship: Examine the construction details and joinery techniques used in the piece. Stickley furniture is well-known for its solid construction and attention to detail. Look for evidence of hand-cut dovetail joints, mortise and tenon joinery, and other traditional woodworking techniques.

Analyzing the Joinery and Hardware

To determine the authenticity and craftsmanship of old Stickley furniture, carefully analyze the joinery and hardware used in the piece. Stickley furniture is known for its high-quality construction and attention to detail, so examining the joinery and hardware can provide valuable clues about its age and authenticity.

Start by inspecting the joinery, which refers to the way the different parts of the furniture are joined together. Stickley furniture typically features sturdy and precise joinery techniques, such as mortise and tenon joints. These joints involve one piece of wood, called the tenon, fitting into a corresponding hole, called the mortise. The fit should be tight and flush, without any gaps or wobbling. Look for signs of handcraftsmanship, such as slight variations in the joints, which can indicate that the piece was made by a skilled artisan.

Next, examine the hardware on the furniture. Authentic Stickley pieces often feature solid brass hardware, which has a weighty feel and a warm patina that develops over time. Look for marks or stamps on the hardware, as these can provide important information about its origin and age. Additionally, check for signs of wear or aging that are consistent with the overall condition of the piece. A genuine antique Stickley piece will have hardware that shows signs of use and age, while reproductions or newer pieces may have hardware that looks shiny and new.

Studying the Design Elements and Details

Continue examining the authenticity and craftsmanship of old Stickley furniture by carefully studying the design elements and details. These elements can provide valuable clues about the age and origin of the piece. Pay close attention to the following:

  • Wood Species: Stickley furniture is typically made from solid oak, with quartersawn oak being the most common. Look for the distinctive grain pattern and the presence of medullary rays, which are small lines that run across the grain.
  • Finish: Stickley furniture is known for its hand-rubbed finish. Look for a smooth, even surface with a rich patina. Avoid pieces with a shiny, lacquered appearance, as this could indicate a newer or refinished piece.
  • Joinery: Examine the joints of the furniture to determine the level of craftsmanship. Stickley furniture is known for its sturdy construction and use of traditional joinery techniques such as mortise and tenon joints.
  • Hardware: Take a close look at the hardware on the piece. Stickley furniture often features solid brass hardware with a dark patina. Look for the Stickley mark or logo on the hardware, as this can be a strong indicator of authenticity.

Researching Stickley Furniture Catalogs and Advertisements

To uncover clues about the authenticity of old Stickley furniture, you can turn to catalog research. Stickley furniture catalogs provide valuable information about the different styles, designs, and manufacturing techniques used during specific time periods. By studying these catalogs, you can gain insights into the characteristics and features that are indicative of genuine Stickley pieces.

Additionally, advertisements from the past can reveal important details about the manufacturing process, materials used, and the overall reputation of Stickley furniture.

Catalog Clues for Authenticity

To determine the authenticity of old Stickley furniture, you can start by researching Stickley furniture catalogs and advertisements. These catalogs and advertisements provide valuable clues that can help you identify genuine pieces. Here are some catalog clues to look out for:

  • Model Numbers: Stickley catalogs often include model numbers for each piece of furniture. These model numbers can help you match the piece you have with the ones featured in the catalog.
  • Descriptions and Specifications: Pay attention to the descriptions and specifications provided in the catalogs. Look for details about the materials used, construction techniques, and design features. Compare these details with the piece you have to ensure consistency.
  • Prices: Examine the prices listed in the catalogs. Stickley furniture is known for its quality craftsmanship, so if the price seems too low, it could be a red flag.
  • Illustrations and Photographs: Look for illustrations or photographs of the furniture in the catalogs. Compare the images with the piece you have to check for similarities in design and construction.

Ads Reveal Manufacturing Details

Researching Stickley furniture catalogs and advertisements will provide you with valuable insights into the manufacturing details of old Stickley furniture. By examining the catalogs and advertisements from the time period, you can learn about the materials used, construction techniques, and design features of the furniture.

Stickley furniture was known for its high-quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. The ads often highlighted the unique aspects of the furniture, such as hand-carved details or hand-finished surfaces. They also provided information about the different styles and collections available, allowing you to identify specific pieces and their manufacturing details.

Catalogs and advertisements can give you a glimpse into the history and evolution of Stickley furniture, allowing you to make informed decisions when identifying and authenticating old pieces.

Consulting Experts and Appraisers

  1. Start by reaching out to a reputable appraiser or furniture expert to get a professional opinion on your old Stickley furniture. These experts have the knowledge and experience to accurately identify and evaluate the value of your furniture.
  2. When consulting an expert or appraiser, provide them with as much information as possible about your furniture. This includes any markings, labels, or signatures that may be present. It’s also helpful to provide them with clear photographs of your furniture from different angles.
  3. Be prepared to ask questions and engage in a discussion with the expert. They may ask you questions about the history or provenance of the furniture, so it’s important to have any relevant information ready. This can include details about where and when you acquired the furniture, any previous owners, or any known repairs or alterations.
  4. Remember that the opinion of an expert or appraiser is valuable, but it isn’t the final word. It’s always a good idea to get multiple opinions before making any decisions about your furniture. This will help you get a more complete picture of its value and authenticity.

Consulting experts and appraisers is an important step in identifying old Stickley furniture. Their knowledge and expertise can help you determine the age, authenticity, and value of your furniture. By following these guidelines and seeking multiple opinions, you can make informed decisions about your old Stickley furniture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Some Common Value Ranges for Stickley Furniture?

Stickley furniture can have a wide range of values depending on factors such as age, condition, and rarity. It’s important to research recent sales and consult with experts to get an accurate estimate of value.

How Can I Determine if My Stickley Furniture Is a Reproduction?

To determine if your Stickley furniture is a reproduction, examine the construction, materials, and markings. Look for signs of modern tools or techniques, non-original hardware, and inconsistencies in the design. Consulting experts can also be helpful.

Are There Any Specific Design Elements That Are Unique to Stickley Furniture?

There are specific design elements that are unique to Stickley furniture. Look for the use of quarter-sawn oak, the signature “finger joint” construction, and the handcrafted details. These are all indicators of authenticity.

What Are Some Tips for Preserving and Maintaining Stickley Furniture?

To preserve and maintain Stickley furniture, keep it away from direct sunlight and moisture, use coasters for drinks, regularly dust and clean with a mild solution, and avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials.

How Can I Find Out More About the Specific History of My Stickley Furniture Piece?

To find out more about the specific history of your Stickley furniture piece, you can start by researching the company’s archives, consulting with antique dealers, or reaching out to Stickley collectors and experts.


In conclusion, by familiarizing yourself with the history, styles, construction techniques, labels and marks, wood and finish, joinery and hardware, design elements and details, as well as researching catalogs and advertisements, and consulting experts and appraisers, you can successfully identify old Stickley furniture.

This knowledge will enable you to confidently assess the authenticity and value of any Stickley piece you come across.

So go ahead and start your journey into the world of Stickley furniture identification!