Dining Room Furnishings

Dimensions: 120 3/4 " W x 70 3/4" H x 24 1/2" D
Materials: Oak and chestnut with copper hardware
Date: Circa 1910
Designer: Unknown
Anonymous gift to The Craftsman Farms Foundation.

The sideboard in the dining room at Craftsman Farms is one of the largest and most impressive case pieces ever made by Stickley’s firm, and as far as is now known it is one of only four sideboards of this basic design to emerge from his factory. Stickley evidently made these sideboards only for hisown use, for exhibition, or on special order. Some aspects of their designs – the quartered oak cabinet doors with elongated strap hinges and the angled open shelves at both ends of the case – were probably inspired by a sideboard designed earlier by the British architect M. H. Baillie Scott. In January 1900, a picture of that Baillie Scott work appeared on the cover of the American Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer, and Stickley and his designers would have routinely seen this trade magazine at his office.

A drawing of the first known Stickley sideboard of this design was published in the December 1902 issue of his Craftsman magazine, where it was shown in the dining room of his newly remodeled Syracuse home. That sideboard was 121" long, 44" high, and 25" deep; its door and drawer handles and horizontal strap hinges were of hand-wrought iron—and it was made of Stickley’s favorite cabinet wood, quarter sawn oak. Its proportions were long and low. It had a central stack of drawers flanked by cabinet doors, and there were Baillie Scott-like open shelves at both ends. That sideboard stayed in the Stickley family until the late 1980s and is now in a private collection.

A few months later, in March and April 1903, Stickley held an Arts and Crafts exhibition at his Syracuse Craftsman Building, and one of the exhibition’s highlights was the model dining room installed on the building’s second floor. As the editor of The Craftsman, Irene Sargent, wrote in the magazine that May, "One of [the] features which called forth the most spontaneous admiration was the dining room furnished and arranged by the United Crafts…. The sideboard especially attracted the attention of the visitors, and was judged to be one of the best pieces as yet built in the workshops of the United Crafts." This sideboard was almost identical to the one in Stickley’s Columbus Avenue home. It was offered for sale at the high price of $190, an amount equivalent to about $4000 in 2006; its present whereabouts are unknown.

In 1908 or 1909, Stickley’s firm built another, though slightly smaller, sideboard of this design for the home of Duncan and Flora Guiney of Yonkers, New York. Duncan Guiney was a merchant tailor whose Manhattan business was on West 34th Street near Fifth Avenue, about a block from Stickley’s retail store and offices at 29 and 41 West 34th Street. Very possibly the two men knew each other and it may have been because of this personal relationship that Guiney ordered a Stickley sideboard that exactly fit the length of the his dining room’s north wall. That sideboard remained in the house through several subsequent owners and is now in a private collection.

When Stickley came to furnish the vast Craftsman Farms dining room, he decided to adapt this handsome – as well as large and functional – sideboard design. Though the hardware is different, the Craftsman Farms sideboard clearly evolved from the earlier versions and like them is constructed of quarter-sawn oak. The most apparent difference is the useful and attractive attached plate rack that the preceding sideboards lacked. The plate rack is framed with oak members, matching the sideboard’s case, but the chamfered vertical boards spanning the width of the plate rack are chestnut, bringing this piece into harmony with the chestnut logs and chestnut furniture used throughout the downstairs of the house. Contemporary photographs show that Stickley decked out this plate rack with ceramic and wrought metal platters and serving pieces, as well as a discreet bell, which his wife Eda presumably pressed to summon family servants.

Corner Cabinets
Dimensions: 50 3/4" W x 66 1/2" H x 26 1/2" D
Oak with copper hardware
Date: Circa 1910 - 1911
Designer: Unknown
Acquired by the Craftsman Farms Foundation at Christie’s, New York, November 29, 1999, lots #417 and #418.

As the manufacturer of reproduction "period" chairs through the 1880s and 1890s Stickley would have been well aware that the corner cabinet was a common vernacular furniture form in late 18th and early 19th century America. Given his professed admiration for the design skills and craftsmanship of the artisans of that pre-industrial era, it is not surprising that when his firm began producing case pieces that he would want to construct a Craftsman version of that familiar form. He first cataloged a Craftsman corner cabinet in 1902, making it of massive oak planks and giving it glazed doors with wooden mitered mullions above a pair of solid oak cupboard doors enriched with iron or copper strap hinges. About the same time his firm created a variant of that design with diamond-paned leaded glass doors instead of wooden mullions. This diamond pattern is familiar to any one who has ever visited Craftsman Farms and noted the many log house windows that use this same motif.

In 1903, Stickley made a corner cabinet for the Arts and Crafts exhibition he held that year in the Craftsman Building, offering it for sale for the high price of $100. That tall, strap-hinged oak case piece is the most magnificent corner cabinet ever produced by his firm. Fortunately – for later generations – it did not sell, and Stickley took it home to his own dining room. It remains in his family today and has been shown in several recent museum exhibitions. His firm evidently manufactured other corner cabinets in later years, but after 1902 none were included in Craftsman furniture catalogs. In April 1906, however, The Craftsman magazine offered plans and building instructions for a corner cupboard in its monthly feature, "Home Training in Cabinet Work." The short accompanying text noted that making this case piece was a complicated task for a novice: "This piece is the most difficult of any yet given in our Cabinet Work series. The fitting of the 45-degree angles must be carefully done. The glass mullions … demand careful work."

Except for their triangular plan, the corner cabinets made for the log house dining room at Craftsman Farms are closely related to the standard china cabinets and bookcases the firm was then manufacturing. The top rails curve gently from back to front, an elongated iteration of the curve frequently seen on Craftsman case pieces made between 1901 and 1916. The glazed doors have straightforward, lap-jointed mullions and, as was true of all cataloged Craftsman china cabinets from 1907 on, the interior shelves are stationary. For his own home Stickley might have specified china cabinets with costlier, more labor-intensive mitered mullions and adjustable shelves. But instead of insisting on those subtle refinements he followed the dictates of what had become his standard factory practice. If there is a slight indulgence evident here, it is the shapely, non-standard hammered copper hardware echoing the hardware on the sideboard.

In late 1916 Stickley’s firm made perhaps its final corner cabinet. Combining vernacular, Gothic Revival, and Sheraton attributes, it was part of his ill-fated Chromewald line, and was finished with hand-rubbed blue and brown hues. Though not particularly well constructed, and a far cry from his earlier Arts and Crafts furniture, it is a delicately beautiful object and a fitting conclusion to his nearly fifteen year engagement with this three-sided cabinet form.

Donegal carpet
Dimensions: 165" x 114"
Date: Ca 1905 - 1910
Designer: Attributed to Morton's Studio
Anonymous gift to The Craftsman Farms Foundation.

Stickley evidently first made personal contact with the British carpet manufacturing firm, Alexander Morton & Company, when he was in London on a buying trip in January 1903. The subdued colors of these lush woolen carpets – chiefly greens, yellows, and blues – as well as their stylized floral and plant-form motifs certainly appealed to Stickley’s Arts and Crafts taste. The distinctive designs were created by Alexander Morton’s son James and nephew Gavin, as well as a distinguished roster of British freelancers, among them C. F. A. Voysey, the Silver Studio, Lindsay Butterfield, M. H. Baillie Scott, and numerous others. The carpets were hand-woven for Morton in Ireland.

In March and April 1903, Stickley showed two Donegal carpets at his Arts and Crafts exhibition in Syracuse and Rochester, New York, offering one for sale for $190. During the exhibition, Stickley’s firm announced that it was now importing these carpets, and it continued to do so throughout the following decade. Stickley illustrated a Donegal carpet in his first textile and needlework catalog (March 1905), offering a light weight rug at $12.50 a yard and a heavy weight rug for $16.50. These were costly carpets: a multi-hued Craftsman drugget rug pictured in that same catalog was priced at $2.50 a yard. Promotional copy in the 1912 Craftsman furnishings catalog reveals that the firm did not keep Donegals on hand: "The Donegal rugs which are made for us in Ireland are not carried in stock, but woven to order…. From four to six months are usually required to fill an order for Donegal rugs." The catalog copy also makes clear the Donegal’s appeal: "These rugs … come in designs with broad effects and well-blended coloring that bring them into complete harmony with Craftsman … furnishings."

By the time this 1912 catalog was published Stickley had already furnished the dining room at Craftsman Farms with two Donegal carpets and a Donegal runner, and one carpet remains in that space. The two carpets seem to be in the pattern Morton called "The Fintona," a stylized plant-form design attributed to the Silver Studios. The carpets’ predominantly green, yellow, gold, and dusty rose tones complemented the green-brown woodwork and furniture and picked up the colors of the amber glass light fixtures, the window curtains and other Craftsman textiles used in this room. Stickley’s catalogs promised that Donegal carpets would be in "complete harmony" with Craftsman furnishing, and in the dining room at Craftsman Farms he made that promise a reality.

In November of 2006 rug maker Del Martin donated three exact reproduction carpets, after exhaustive research on the original carpet, and these rugs are now on display in the Log House. The original rug will be displayed when the museum is able to construct appropriate space in the future.

13 August 2020



August 12, 2020


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