Here is a book for serious Arts & Crafts collectors who want to know exactly how Gustav Stickley manufactured and finished his furniture. Drawing on the business records of Gustav Stickley’s firm that repose in The Winterthur Library, the author describes how Gustav Stickley organized his factory, how many workers he employed and what they did in the factory, what machinery the factory utilized, how the furniture was finished, and how much furniture the factory produced. The book discusses, among other topics: What “handmade” meant in the context of furniture in the early 1900s; how Gustav Stickley’s designs evolved to reduce the cost of production; how Gustav Stickley modified his finishes over the period of his production; the process of fuming; how Gustav Stickley colored, finished, and coated his furniture; the Nitrocellulose Lacquer Mystery; and the author’s “Grove Park Inn experiments.” The book also discusses the finishes of other leading Arts & Crafts furniture manufacturers such as the L.&J.G. Stickley Company, the Roycrofters, Stickley Brothers of Grand Rapids, and the Grand Rapids Bookcase and Chair Company (“Life-Time”).
The 325-page book is lavishly illustrated with black and white and color photographs, including over fifty color samples illustrating Gustav Stickley’s different finishes. For the handy craftsman or refinisher, the book includes an invaluable glossary of early 1900s finishing terminology, and an appendix containing the formulas or recipes for the stain samples shown in the book.