Antiques & Collecting: Stickley designs featured practicality over decoration

By Terry and Kim Kovel

Gustav Stickley has created icons of American design. Inspired by John Ruskin and William Morris of the English Arts and Crafts movement, Stickley started the Craftsman workshop in 1900. He originated what was later called mission furniture, with its simple, sturdy shapes, iron and hammered copper hardware, and emphasis on skilled craftsmanship and practicality instead of decoration. He favored oak because it is strong and heavy. Like the movement in England, Stickley’s style went beyond a furniture brand; it was an entire philosophy. He published a magazine called “The Craftsman.”

This early Stickley desk, made around 1900, sold for $3,900 at Cottone Auctions in Geneseo, New York. It has a fall front that could be folded up when the writing surface wasn’t in use, taking up less space in the room. Other adjustable or multifunction Stickley designs include an adjustable recliner and a bookshelf that could also be used as a table.

* * *

Q: I have a small pin and a matching 8-inch hatpin from the San Xavier Mission in Arizona. Both are embossed with a picture of the mission and marked with three hearts with the letters “P & B” in them and “Sterling.” My grandmother said her mother bought them when they went to California by train in the early 1900s. What can you tell me about them?

A: These were made by Paye & Baker, a company in business in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, from 1901 to the 1960s. The company started as Simmons & Paye in 1896 and became Paye & Baker in 1901. Souvenir spoons, jewelry and novelty items were made until 1919, when the company began making dental and surgical instruments. Production of silver items resumed in 1923. The company became a division of the Bishop Company in 1952 and went out of business in the early 1960s.

* * *

Q: I recently bought a cut-glass decanter at an auction. It has a white residue on the very bottom. How can I remove this without damaging the crystal?

A: The white residue is caused by calcium, lime and other minerals found in hard water. It can be removed by filling the decanter with warm water and adding white vinegar, vinegar and baking soda, or a denture tablet. Let it sit for several hours or overnight. Rinse out the solution and wash the decanter in a plastic tub or in a sink lined with a towel or rubber mat to prevent chipping. Turn the faucet to one side or put a rubber collar on the spout to avoid hitting the metal. Wash in warm (not hot) water and detergent, rinse and put upside down on a dish rack to dry. The inside of the decanter can be dried by inserting pieces of an old cotton sheet and using the handle of a wooden spoon or a wooden dowel to wipe it.

* * *

Q: My husband got a Camel cigarette lighter from his uncle years ago. It is 2 inches high and 2 inches wide and in the original box. The box and lighter picture a camel and pyramids, and the words “Camel, have a real cigarette!” On the bottom it says “Crown design Reg’d.” It’s in excellent condition. Is it of any value?

A: This Crown lighter was made in Japan in the 1960s. Several other companies made the same lighter, and they are easy to find for sale online. The lighter, in excellent condition and in the original box, is worth less than $25.

* * *

TIP: Never wear rubber gloves when cleaning or handling silver. The sulfur from the gloves tarnishes silver.


Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

Pattern glass water set, Coin Dot, cranberry shaded to clear, bulbous pitcher with elongated neck stretched to four-sided rim, four tumblers, five pieces, $60.

Furniture, mirror, neoclassical style, giltwood, brown paint between molded sides, crest with gilt ribbon swag, rosettes in corners, fleur-de-lis finials, 36 x 25 inches, $125.

Candy container, turkey, molded papier-mache, realistically painted, two metal feet, head pulls off to reveal opening, Germany, 5 x 3 inches, $200.

Coin, Pilgrim half-dollar, side view of a pilgrim man holding prayer book, “In God We Trust,” Mayflower ship on reverse with Pilgrim Tercentenary Celebration 1620-1920, $300.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper?


Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today