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Stickley Furniture

by Terry and Kim Kovel

Gustav Stickley has created icons of American design. Inspired by John Ruskin and William Morris of the English Arts and Crafts movement, Stickley started the Craftsman workshop in 1900. He originated what was later called mission furniture, with its simple, sturdy shapes, iron, and hammered copper hardware, and emphasis on skilled craftsmanship and practicality instead of decoration. He favored oak because it is strong and heavy. Like the movement in England, Stickley’s style went beyond a furniture brand; it was an entire philosophy. He published a magazine called The Craftsman.

This early Stickley desk, made around 1900, sold for $3,900 at Cottone Auctions in Geneseo, New York. It has a fall front that could be folded up when the writing surface wasn’t in use, taking up less space in the room. Other adjustable or multifunction Stickley designs include an adjustable recliner and a bookshelf that could also be used as a table.

Q: I recently bought a cut-glass de-canter at an auction. It has a white residue on the very bottom. How can I remove this without damaging the crystal?

A: The white residue is caused by calcium, lime, and other minerals found in hard water. It can be removed by filling the decanter with warm water and adding white vinegar, and baking soda, or a denture tablet. Let it sit for several hours or overnight. Rinse out the solution and wash the decanter in a plastic tub or in a sink lined with a towel or rubber mat to prevent chipping. Turn the faucet to one side or put a rubber collar on the spout to avoid hitting the metal. Wash in warm (not hot) water and detergent, rinse, and put upside down on a dish rack to dry. The inside of the decanter can be dried by inserting pieces of an old cotton sheet and using the handle of a wooden spoon or a wooden dowel to wipe it.