Are you a passionate antique collector who is looking to add Stickley furniture to your collection? Have you come across an old piece of furniture and wondered if it could be from the iconic American craftsman Gustav Stickley’s workshops?
The good news is that identifying Stickley furniture is not as hard as it may seem. There are numerous ways for collectors to quickly spot pieces made by pioneering designer and manufacturers.
In this blog post on how to identify old stickley furniture, we will provide all the information you need about authenticating and valuing vintage Stickley pieces. Read on for some tips on what factors to look out for when trying to identify Old Stickley Furniture!
What is Old Stickley Furniture?
Old Stickley furniture is a type of Arts and Crafts style furniture manufactured by the American craftsman Gustav Stickley from 1902 to 1916. His designs often featured simple geometric shapes, exposed joinery, utilitarian elements and hand-applied finishes. These pieces are known for their high quality construction and timeless design aesthetic.
13 Step-by-step Guidelines on How to Identify Old Stickley Furniture
Step 1: Examine the Furniture
Take a close look at the piece and make sure it’s actually Stickley-made. Look for simple geometric shapes, exposed joinery and utilitarian elements. If these features are present, then the piece is likely a Stickley original. Otherwise, it may be another designer’s work. You can also look for the signature “Stickley” imprinted onto the furniture.
Step 2: Check the Finish
Old Stickley furniture almost always has a hand-applied finish. This can help you verify the authenticity of a Stickley piece and differentiate it from a copycat design. If the finish looks too perfect, it could be an indication that it’s not from Stickley. Otherwise, you could be looking at a genuine Stickley piece. It’s also important to check for any chips or scratches on the finish, as these can be telltale signs of wear and tear.
Step 3: Look for Maker’s Marks
Stickley pieces are often marked with “Gustav Stickley” or his trademark, which is an open-book logo with two crossed sticks. You should look for this mark on the bottom or back of the furniture to verify its authenticity. But not all Stickley pieces are marked, so if you don’t find it, that doesn’t necessarily mean the piece is fake.
Step 4: Inspect the Construction
Stickley furniture was well-constructed and made to last generations. Old Stickleys often have visible dovetailed joints, mortise and tenon joinery, corner blocks and other sturdy details that demonstrate their high quality. If these details are present, then you can be confident that the piece is indeed an original Stickley. But if the construction looks flimsy and cheaply made, then it’s likely not from Stickley.
Step 5: Check the Hardware
Old Stickley furniture often features period-appropriate hardware with a hammered or peened look. This is another clue to help distinguish genuine pieces from modern reproductions. This hardware can also be an indication of the age of the piece, as it was often replaced over time.
From examining the furniture to checking the hardware, there are numerous ways to verify a piece as an Old Stickley. The more research you do and the closer you look, the more likely it is that your piece is an original.
Step 6: Examine the Wood Type
Stickley used a variety of woods in his pieces, including oak, cherry, mahogany and walnut. He also made use of characteristic grain patterns like tiger staining, bird’s eye maple and curly graining on some of his more intricate pieces. Be sure to take note of these elements if you come across them. This is another good way to determine the authenticity of a Stickley piece.
Step 7: Look for Appropriate Joinery Details
If there are joinery details on the piece, they should look like they were made in the early 1900s. Details such as exposed mortise and tenons, half-blind dovetails, and butterfly keys are common features of Stickley furniture from this period. This is another good way to determine the authenticity of an Old Stickley piece. If all of these elements are present, then you can be confident that your piece is an original Stickley.
Step 8: Check for Original Patina
Old pieces often have a unique patina that is only found on antiques and vintage furniture. This can help you distinguish between genuine Stickleys and modern reproductions. You should also take note of any cracks, warping or other signs of wear and tear as these can be indicators of age. If all of these elements are present, then you can be confident that your piece is an Old Stickley.
Step 9: Examine Stylistic Elements
Stickleys from different periods had distinct stylistic elements, so take note of these when examining a piece. For example, Early American pieces feature simple lines with minimal ornamentation or curvilinear shapes while later Arts and Crafts pieces have more detailed carvings and metal accents.
Step 10: Inspect the Upholstery
Stickley furniture from this era often featured upholstered cushions with a recessed center or tufted back. Take note of these elements when inspecting old Stickley furniture as they can help you identify the piece’s age. If all of these details are present, then you can be confident that your piece is an original Stickley.
Step 11: Pay Attention to Maker’s Stamps
If there is a maker’s stamp on the piece, it should be consistent with Gustav Stickley’s trademark logo, which consists of two crossed sticks behind an open book. This mark alone is not enough to verify authenticity but it can provide clues about the origin of the piece. It should be noted that many modern reproductions also feature this stamp so it’s important to look at all of the other evidence before confirming a piece as an original Stickley.
Step 12: Compare Prices
Be aware that there are a lot of imitations and reproductions on the market, so it’s important to compare prices when shopping for Stickley furniture. If you find a piece that is priced much lower than you would expect from an authentic antiques dealer, then it may be a copycat design rather than an original.
Step 13: Research Your Piece
Take some time to do research about your piece if you still have questions. There are online resources and forums dedicated to helping people identify and authenticate Stickley furniture so take advantage of these tools before making your final decision.
If you’re still not sure about the authenticity of a piece after doing your research, then it may be best to consult an expert.
By following these steps on how to identify old stickley furniture, you can easily identify whether or not the piece of Stickley furniture you’re looking at is original. Doing your research and paying attention to the various details can help you determine if it is authentic or not.
Authentic pieces are expensive but make a great addition to any home, so put in the effort to make sure that what you’re investing in is worth your time and money.
Should You Get a Professional Opinion ?
If you’re still in doubt, then it may be worth your while to consult an expert in antiques. Ask for references from friends or seek out a reputable appraiser who specializes in Stickley furniture. These professionals will be able to give you a more accurate assessment of the piece’s authenticity and value.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How Can I Tell the Age of a Stickley Piece?
A: Take note of stylistic elements such as dovetailed joints, exposed mortise and tenon joinery, metal accents, wood type and grain pattern. These factors can help you to accurately date the piece.
Additionally, Stickley used different maker’s stamps throughout his career, so check for any identifying marks on the furniture that might give clues about its origin.
Q: How Do I Know if a Stickley Piece is Authentic?
A: Look for period-appropriate joinery details, original patina, and maker’s stamps. Also, compare prices with similar items to make sure you’re not getting duped into buying a reproduction. Finally, do your research and get help from experts if needed.
Q: Where Can I Buy Genuine Stickley Furniture?
A: You can find genuine Stickley furniture from authorized dealers or auction houses. Additionally, there are online retailers that specialize in antiques and vintage furniture. Be sure to carefully inspect any piece before making a purchase to ensure it is authentic.
Q: What are the Key Features of Stickley Furniture?
A: The key features of Stickley furniture include exposed joinery and dovetailed joints, bold lines, simple forms, and a focus on natural materials. Additionally, authentic pieces may have metal accents such as copper or brass hardware.
Finally, some original pieces would have been stamped with a’s mark, which can help to identify them. authentic Stickley pieces and may have fewer quality features.
To wrap up on how to identify old stickley furniture, there are many details to look for when it comes to identifying older Stickley furniture. Dating it accurately requires a good eye and some patience, but the results can be quite rewarding. Multiple things, from a paper label to connecting measurements and components can help to definitively identify that the piece is an antique Stickley item.
Being aware of the different types of frames, joints, and issues with restoration can also help with assigning an age range to a piece of furniture. It may take some time to get accustomed to identifying older Stickley pieces, but this antiquing skill will bring great rewards for both skilled professionals and amateur antique collectors alike.