Mission furniture is not the only style that has stood the test of time at L. & J.G. Stickley. In fact, one of our most beloved upholstered chairs made its Stickley debut nearly 100 years ago, and it can still be found on our best-seller lists year after year. This is the story of Leopold’s Chair.
Then known simply as arm chair #9072, this deeply tufted chair was introduced as part of Leopold Stickley’s popular Cherry Valley collection of colonial furnishings. Catalogs of the period show it for the first time around 1930, and it was clearly successful enough that it remained in the line until the late 1960s, years after Leopold’s death.
1930 – 1937 L. & J.G. Stickley catalog 25
It was inspired by a style known as the “Sleepy Hollow” chair, a term applied at the time to any upright chair with a sling seat. The name Sleepy Hollow, a nod to Washington Irving’s “Rip van Winkle” tale out of the Hudson Valley, attests to its comfortable, sleep-friendly design. Variations on the chair were widely available, including a version by Charak Furniture in Boston that was virtually identical to Stickley’s chair. By coincidence, one of the most prolific manufacturers of Sleepy Hollow chairs at the time was Carl Forslund, who was a salesman for Albert Stickley’s furniture company in Grand Rapids, Michigan until going into business for himself in 1935.
Discovery and reissue
When Alfred and Aminy Audi bought L. & J.G. Stickley from Leopold’s widow, Louise Stickley, in 1974, they found a single, well-worn 9072 chair that had survived many years of use at the factory. Mrs. Stickley described it as Leopold’s favorite chair and the one he would often fall asleep in during long hours at the showroom. She couldn’t bring herself to sell it and had instead put it in a storage room.
Years later, it was decided that the chair and ottoman design should be revived for a new generation of customers. Following a modest redesign in keeping with current market trends, the 9072 was reissued as #9328 and renamed, of course, Leopold’s Chair and Ottoman.
A version in leather was added to the original all-fabric option, and the new Leopold’s Chair was unveiled at the 1997 International Furniture Market in High Point, North Carolina, where it was honored by Home Magazine as one of the event’s top upholstery designs.
John Glenn in Leopold’s Chair in 2003, after presenting the Audis with the Boypower Distinguished Citizen Award in Syracuse.
A Stickley icon
Today, Leopold’s Chair is nearly as recognizable an emblem of Stickley as our Mission Collection. In addition to its striking design, impeccable craftsmanship is the key. Dozens of hands play a part in its construction, from assembling its frame to the painstaking hand-tufting of the back, seat, and ottoman. (Watch the making of Leopold’s Chair here!) The result is a comfortable chair that feels as if it were made just for you.
A deconstructed 9072 chair alongside today’s Leopold’s Chair in The Stickley Museum
Leopold’s Chair remains firmly in place as our top-selling upholstered chair, and it shows no sign of going out of style. The next time you visit a Stickley dealer, take a seat and put your feet up, and you’ll understand why!
Amanda Clifford, Director, The Stickley Museum