Gustav Stickley Dining Room Set

Value (2012) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

We have a large family, and I needed a big table, and I had been looking for an oak table, which I hadn't been able to find one. And my neighbor across the street knew I was looking for it, so she called me one morning and said that she'd seen one in the paper. And it was three widowed ladies that were combining their household, and so she had this table, six chairs, six leaves, and the buffet that she was going to sell.

What year was this?

I think about 1958 or '59. And I liked it, and I told her I would buy it from her. She only wanted $50 for it.

For all of it?

For all of it, the whole thing.

Okay. Now, you knew this was a Stickley set. How come? How did you know that?

No, I didn't know it until 1979, when Claudette, the tropical storm, came through and dumped 43 inches of rain on us and we had two feet of water in our house. So I had to go get the... I had to get it refinished because this... all the veneer was coming off. And when the young man that did it for me brought it back, he came up and he says, "Do you know what you have?"

And what did you say?

I told him, "Who is Stickley?" (laughing)

He said, "Stickley," you said, "Who's Stickley?"

Yeah, "What is that?"

Well, let's look and see what he discovered on this set when he started to refinish it, which was the mark, the maker's mark, of Gustav Stickley. And as you can see here, it is... in the mark it is written "Als ik kan," which means "to be as best as you can." And if we look at this, it really is very simple and spare in design. Not a lot of carving that we see in the previous decades, in the Victorian period, in the late 19th century. There's no curvilinear line here-- it's really straightforward. Also, this copperwork was done by Stickley by hand in his craftsman's workshop. In terms of value, I think today this set-- the chairs are really the part of the set that speaks to us, because of course these chairs are a design that Stickley made at the turn of the century and continued through his furniture manufacturing. This wonderful V-shaped crest that you see is very subtle in design. The chairs could bring, at auction, $1,500 to $2,000 apiece. So we've got six of them. The dining room table itself is probably about a $3,000 table, and the sideboard is in the $6,000 to $8,000 range, were we to estimate them at auction. So we've got a good group here.

We certainly do.

I think that, however, you refinished it, and that affects its value. It brings the value down almost 50%. It's just another bit of information to try to keep these things in original condition, and that helps the value.

I think it's a real good investment for $50 borrowed. (laughing)

Appraisal Details

Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Update (2012)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Appraised value (1998)
$15,000 Auction$18,000 Auction
Houston, TX (June 13, 1998)

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