The Stickley Story
The Stickley story begins with three words: “Als Ik Kan,” meaning “to the best of my ability.” This old Flemish craftsman’s phrase was used by Gustav Stickley as a solemn promise to his customer. It is the spirit of five brothers—Gustav, Leopold, John George, Albert, and Charles Stickley—whose collaboration and competition profoundly affected American furniture. It is the legacy that perseveres at Stickley today.
Gustav Stickley and the Craftsman Way of Life
When you think of American Arts and Crafts, you think of Gustav Stickley. Beginning in 1900 with his revolutionary Mission furniture, he showed that every home deserves furniture that is solid and honest, that is made with uncompromising craftsmanship, and that satisfies a real need. Stickley’s Mission pieces are among the most recognizable and cherished in the history of American design. His magazine, The Craftsman, became the premier voice of the Arts and Crafts era, and his Craftsman homes, designed by an elite group of architects, sprang up from coast to coast.
Leopold Stickley, the Revered Dean of Cabinet Makers
Gustav's brother Leopold founded L. & J.G. Stickley, and for sixty years his commitment to enduring construction techniques earned the company a reputation for elite craftsmanship—a reputation Stickley continues to uphold. L. & J.G. Stickley survived the end of the Arts and Crafts movement because Leopold adapted to popular tastes and lead the furniture marketplace during uncertain times. In the 1920s, he unveiled his legendary Cherry Valley Collection, and Stickley became a leader in American colonial furniture throughout the 20th century. In 1956, Leopold Stickley was named “Revered Dean of Cabinet Makers” by the editors of magazines including The New Yorker, National Geographic, House Beautiful, and Fortune, honoring his life long contributions to craftsmanship.
The Audi Family
While Leopold Stickley worked diligently in Upstate New York, his cause was joined downstate by his close friend, Manhattan retailer E.J. Audi. As America’s largest Stickley dealer, Audi spent three decades promoting Stickley to New York’s most discerning customers. It was a passion he shared with his son Alfred, who grew to understand the importance of quality craftsmanship. In 1974, years after Leopold’s death, it was Alfred and Aminy Audi who purchased a struggling L. & J.G. Stickley. They knew that by honoring Stickley’s dedication to craftsmanship, they could turn the company around. In reissuing the Mission collection in 1989, the Audis tapped into a nearly forgotten era of American furniture history and ushered in an Arts and Crafts renaissance. They helped Stickley grow from being a leader of a movement to a leader in the furniture world.