Our story began with three words: Als Ik Kan—”to the best of my ability.” This old Flemish craftsman’s phrase has been the guiding principle of Stickley. Gustav Stickley marked his product with the phrase to assure customers that Stickley furniture was of the finest quality, every piece made with honor, integrity, and pride.
The Stickley brothers burst into international prominence in the early 20th century with their Mission Oak designs. These were based on the notion that furniture should be “honest”—a reaction against the fake joinery, unnecessary gaudiness, and shoddy workmanship of many of the pieces created in the early days of industrial furniture making. The Stickley Brothers used solid construction, what-you-see-is-what-you-get joinery, and the highest quality woods. Finishes were not thick gums, but clear dyes that allowed natural grain to sparkle. In the 1920s, Leopold Stickley honored the traditions of early American craftsman in his colonial-inspired Cherry Valley Collection earning Leopold the title “Revered Dean of Cabinetmakers”. The Stickley brothers showed a genius for design by creating hundreds of new forms that were beautiful, practical, exceedingly strong and long-lasting, and perfect for the new ways American families wanted to live.
After the Stickley brothers passed away, the legacy was passed to the Audi family. At his Manhattan showroom, E.J. Audi had for years been the leading seller of Stickley’s unsurpassed furniture. His son Alfred, and Alfred’s wife Aminy, were unwilling to let Stickley become a relic of the past and decided to purchase the Stickley factory when Leopold’s widow was on the brink of closing it. Alfred promised the couple of dozen employees then remaining that “If you stick with me, I’ll stick with you, and we’re going to make this place move.” Together, they rejuvenated the company. Alfred Audi passed away in the fall of 2007, but the Stickley legacy is continued by his wife Aminy and son Edward.
Enduring tradition, superior craftsmanship, an unshakeable philosophy of excellence—these are the bedrock of the Stickley ethic and the reason that Stickley produces America’s premium hardwood furniture. We say it in many ways, and in different tongues, but the spirit goes right back to the Flemish phrase: Als Ik Kan.
Stickley is proud to share our history with the public in the original Stickley factory. A treasure trove of historical Stickley materials was found tucked in old closets and under floorboards during the move from the original factory to our current Manlius, NY factory. Our oldest and dearest friends donated some early furniture to complement our pieces, and throughout the 1990s the collection grew. We invite you to explore Stickley history and ask you to share any Stickley stories—both memories and memorabilia—with us.