The Stickley History
The story of Stickley finds its beginning in this old saying “to the best of my ability”. This was the phrase that founder Gustav Stickley labelled on each piece of his furniture, a dedicated promise that Stickley furniture was made with integrity and honour, two staples of genuine craftsmanship. It is a promise that the Stickley company still holds fast to today.
During the early 20th century, the new process of industrial furniture making was producing poorly-made furniture, furniture with fake joinery and unnecessary garishness. There was a lack of “honest” or authentic work: real joinery and attention to detail. Enter the Stickley brothers, Gustav and Leopold, whose “honest” Mission Oak designs responded to the shoddy workmanship with a resounding “als ik kan” – and elevated the brothers to international recognition.
The Stickley brothers combined technique, high-quality woods and materials with innovative design. They were able to create new forms that appealed to the American public: furniture that was practical, long-lasting and fashionable. Stickley pieces were, and continue to be, furniture that could be lovingly used and admired. Great attention was paid to the material itself, letting the wood, such as quartersawn oak and other high-quality woods, be the focal point of the pieces. Rather than being thick gums, finishes were clear dyes, which highlighted the natural, beautiful grain of the wood.
This dedication to design, craftsmanship and value continued with all other Stickley pieces. In the 1920’s, Leopold Stickley introduced the Cherry Valley Collection, a colonial-inspired collection which proudly emulated the honourable traditions of early American builders. This elegant collection gave Leopold a new title: the “Reverend Dean of Cabinetmakers.”
stickley_brothersAfter years of creating innovative, beautiful furniture, the Stickley siblings passed away. Stickley continued, but between the 1950’s and 1970’s, interest and respect for handcrafted furniture waned, and their styles began to fall out of trend. The future of the company seemed bleak.
Yet Stickley was not to be abandoned – there were those who believed passionately in well-crafted furniture, like the Audi family. E.J. Audi had been the leading seller of Stickley’s furniture for years from his Manhattan showroom. His son, Alfred, and Aminy, Alfred’s wife, were determined that the Stickley name, and its associations with valued, incomparable craftsmanship, should continue, and not slip away into memory. Alfred and Aminy purchased the Stickley factory from Leopold’s widow, just as it faced closure. To the employees that remained at the factory, Alfred gave his word that he would support them: “If you stick with me, I’ll stick with you, and we’re going to make this place move.” With this optimism and the combined hard work of the owner and the employees, Stickley emerged into a brighter future.
In the fall of 2007, Alfred Audi passed away. The Stickley legacy is continued by his wife, Aminy, and son Edward.
Hand craftsmanship distinguishes Stickley furniture from other furniture lines. Each piece is carefully made using the finest materials, such as quartersawn oak and wild black cherry, and classic joinery techniques, such as exposed mortise-and-tenon joints; booksawn panels; quadralinear posts; side-hung, center-guided drawers, and blind dovetails.
For example, most Stickley door joints are held together with wooden pins that lock the joint and supply additional strength. Unlike dowel joints that rely on glue and can fail over time, self-locking dovetail joints also provide strength. Center-guided drawers with side suspension keep drawers level with no plastic parts to break, no metal to rust and scratch.
The high quality of Stickley furniture is also evident in the finishing of each piece. A smooth, beautiful finish is created using hand sanding and rubbing. Many layers of lacquer help protect each piece. Clear dyes are used instead of opaque ones to add further beauty.
Part of the quality of Stickley furniture is the upholstery. Stickley Fine Upholstery offers a variety of fabric choices to complement your personal taste, home and lifestyle, whether your style is finely tailored traditional, sleek contemporary or casual modern comfort. Comfort and craftsmanship are infused in every piece we make.
Stickley furniture meets the highest standards of quality and durability:
- All Stickley Fine Upholstery is made to California flammability standards, the toughest residential standards in the US.
- Urethane foams used in Stickley Upholstery are PDBE-free and contain the maximum percentage of soy-based polyols.
- Stickley Sensuede and is made from 100% recycled materials and provides the highest grade microfiber fabrics available.
- Hardwood frames are formaldehyde-free.
A piece of Stickley furniture is a lifetime investment, an heirloom that can be passed from one generation to the next. Because of the simplicity of the designs, pieces are timeless classics that can complement modern décor, as well as more traditional homes. The long-lasting value of Stickley furniture is evident in the auction prices obtained for vintage pieces.
Strong, long-lasting construction, high-quality materials, and designs that are both beautiful and practical are the hallmarks of Stickley furniture. Stickley furniture is built to last.
To find out more about Stickley furniture, please visit our stores, Stickley Toronto and Manderley Manor, at 561 and 567 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto.