As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, April, 20006
Q. I am trying to make some leaves for a late 1800's walnut table. It has the slides and pegs in place but the leaves are missing. I have glued up the walnut and made the inserts but I can't make the color match even though I have stripped the table and started over. There seems to be a color difference in the two types of wood even thought they are both walnut. Any hints?
A. The problem is that you are working with woods that were cured differently. Your table is probably slightly redder than your leaves. That's because the old walnut was air dried over a number of years before being milled and finished. Air dried walnut tends to get redder over time. Your new walnut was kiln dried in a relatively short time and has a grayish tint. It will eventually redden but not in your lifetime.
If it's worth the aggravation there are people out there who have stocks of air dried walnut for sale. Most lumber houses can special order it for you. Otherwise you just have to adjust your colors, perhaps even using layering techniques like glazing between coats of finish to match up the woods.
Q. I just bought a very unusual chair at a garage sale and I thought you might be able to tell me something about it. It is sort of a recliner but not really. Instead of the back going down the whole seat slants backward. It is supported underneath by a board that fits in a series of notches that result in different positions of the seat and back. There is a metal tag that says "Streit Slumber Chair". Ever heard of it? Thanks.
A. Heard of it? I HAVE one and I love it. The chair was made by C. F. Streit Manufacturing Co. founded in 1871 in Cincinnati, OH. The "Slumber Chair" was made from the mid 1920's until World War II. I have never seen one that appears to have been made later than that.
They are becoming increasingly harder to find because the board you mentioned is not really attached to the frame of the chair, it just slides into a pair of slots and pivots as required. This loose board often is lost in moving or storage and without it the chair is worthless and making a substitute with the correct hardware is very difficult. That means that a lot of otherwise perfectly good chairs get discarded because of the missing piece.
C. F. Streit retailers were authorized to provide, free of charge, a fitting slip cover for the chair. All the chairs came with a matching stool. The chairs sold retail in the range of $100 in the late 1920's. There were eight models available. I'm pretty sure mine is a "Florentine" model that retailed for $75.00. A 1996 price guide, the latest one I could find with a specific "Streit" reference, lists most models today valued in the mid to high $200 range.
Q. I recently purchased a Mission oak rocker in the style of a lady's sewing rocker. On the back of the seat support there is a signature in script, apparently burned in, "Chas. Stickley". I know one of the Stickley brothers was named Charles but I just can't find anything specific about him in my reading. Is this a hoax or could it be real? Thanks for any information or reference you may find.
A. There were actually five Stickley brothers and they were all involved in the furniture industry in some way or another in various combinations in the late 19th and early 20th century. The five brothers were Gustav (1858-1942), Leopold (1869-1957), Charles (1871-1921), John George and Albert (d. 1928), all the sons of German immigrants. Gustav was the oldest and ultimately the most influential. He was the purist and the theorist who provided the artistic foundation for the rest of the clan.
In 1884 three of the brothers, Gustav, Charles and Albert opened the first formal furniture venture of the family in Binghamton, New York. It was originally called Stickley Brothers Furniture Co. and later was known as Gustav Stickley Co. Charles left almost immediately after forming the company and opened his own operation with an uncle. Charles' new company was known as Stickley-Brandt, also head quartered in Binghamton. It originally made Victorian design furniture and then turned to the Mission style, specializing in chairs. This company went out of business in 1919, a victim of World War I and the dying Arts & Crafts market. Charles died two years later.
I have not seen the Chas. Stickley brand before but it almost assuredly came from the Stickley-Brandt era, possibly indicating a chair of his personal design.
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