A Rare Opportunity For Collectors
I have often said that at the annual Grove Park Inn Arts and Crafts Conference you can see more Arts and Crafts in three days than most people can anywhere else in an entire year.
And I enjoy the opportunity to study and compare forms at the February three-day show as much as anyone else.
Case in point:
I have a sentimental attachment to Gustav Stickley’s earliest magazine stand (pictured), simply because it was the first piece of his furniture which I ever purchased, buying it in Iowa City from a dealer for $100. Although Stickley first listed this form in 1900 as “Chalet Magazine Cabinet #500” and a year later as “Magazine Cabinet #506,” auction houses and writers have since started calling it his “Tree of Life” stand, referring to the stylized tree carved into the sides of each one, something I do not believe Gus ever did.
[If someone knows of an instance wherein Gustav Stickley actually labeled this as his “Tree of Life” stand, please correct me.]
By 1902 he had stopped making this form, adopting, instead, one less influenced by the fluid Art Nouveau style. But his workmen had made enough of these magazine stands that they show up often today, and never have been valued as highly as his later, straighter, more Arts and Crafts-style forms. And this model #506 magazine stand may still be his least expensive one to collect.
Stickley collectors, being as tightly wound as we are, soon noticed that there were two different carvings on these stands. The first one, which looks similar to a small lotus tree, is presumed to have come from the time in 1900 when Stickley was marketing his furniture through the Tobey Company. The second (pictured), which is slightly more refined and actually looks more like a tree, may well be indicative of the stands which he made and marketed himself in 1901 after breaking away from Tobey. However, the second style of carving may actually still have been marketed through Tobey, as neither style of carved magazine stand ever bears the familiar red Gustav Stickley decal he was using by 1902.
Regardless, the great thing about the Grove Park Inn show is that I was able to walk through it and inspect not one, not two, not even three of these early magazine stands — as there was a total of four of them on the floor.
And, as they say on The Big Bang Theory, “How cool is that?”
From one Arts and Crafts geek to another?
Hope to see you at the GPI!
To see the conference brochure, simply click here: