Leopold and John George Stickley
Raised in a Furniture Family
The youngest two Stickley brothers, Leopold and John George Stickley (or L. & J.G. Stickley, as they were later known together), were born in Osceola, Wisconsin in 1869 and 1871 respectively. After their father left the family, their mother Barbara moved all 11 of her children to Brandt, Pennsylvania, where her brother Schuyler C. Brandt owned a chair factory. Leopold and John George’s older brother Gustav started working at the factory and later established a furniture factory of his own.
Early Arts and Crafts Design Ventures
In 1899, Leopold Stickley began working as a foreman at Gustav Stickley Company in Eastwood, New York. John George worked with brother Albert at Stickley Brothers Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1900, Leopold and John George acquired Collins, Sisson & Pratt Furniture Company in Fayetteville, New York to start their own venture. Unlike Gustav Stickley, who was invested in spreading the Arts and Crafts handmade ethos in America, Leopold and John George were more financially motivated. By 1902, Leopold contracted with Chicago’s Tobey Furniture Company to supply Mission Style designs anonymously.
The Onondaga Shops and Beyond
Leopold and John George finally incorporated in 1904 as L. & J.G. Stickley Co., having initially called their operation The Onondaga Shops. Production expanded quickly and they released their Arts and Crafts and Simple Furniture Built on Mission Lines at the Grand Rapids Furniture Exhibition in 1905. Given his prior experience as Gustav Stickley’s foreman, Leopold was able to create Arts and Crafts designs very similar to Gustav’s to appeal to the market. However, Leopold and John George had a much different philosophical approach. They advertised their processes as modern and “scientific,” without “attempt[ing] to follow the traditions of a bygone day.” This enabled them to stay in business while adapting to ever-changing tastes.
From Mission Style to Colonial Revival to Stickley-Audi
In 1918, when Gustav Stickley was forced out of business as a result of bankruptcy, Leopold and John George purchased his Craftsman Shops, combining the two leading Mission Style furniture firms. In the 1920s, as Arts and Crafts furniture fell out of general favor, L. & J.G. Stickley Co. debuted its well-received Cherry Valley collection in the Colonial Revival style. John George died in 1921, but Leopold ran the company until his death in 1957. Alfred Audi acquired L. & J.G. Stickley Co. in 1974 and the company is still in business today, operating as Stickley-Audi.Contact a Specialist View all Artists/Makers