Stag Furniture from cutting edge to super boring !

Stag Furniture from cutting edge to super boring !

We’ve recently purchased 3 Stag Furniture leaflets from 1961 , and they show the amazing diversity of the market for new furniture at the time . The British furniture industry was on the cusp of embracing the contemporary and modern , but as a large percentage of the buyers were very conservative in their tastes some makers like Stag liked to cover themselves and make pieces for both trendy and traditional home owners . We also have a McIntosh 1962 catalogue , and they too were trying to appeal to as many people as possible . Others like G Plan and White + Newton were targeting just the buyers who were looking for the latest look .

McIntosh soon ditched their traditional pieces and unashamedly went totally contemporary , but Stag if anything moved from cutting edge to more safe and conservative designs as the 1960s progressed . Both firms did very well in the 1960s and well into the 1970s .

The first 1961 Stag leaflet we have is for their “A ” Range bedroom furniture the cover  is stylish and modern at first look , but inside you’ll find 1930s influenced pieces that would have been designed in the early 1950s . The leaflet starts ” Stag A Range – famous in the field of traditional oak furniture -combines fine quality and taste with most reasonable prices ” . As an auctioneer for over 20 years I saw and sold large numbers of these pieces and ones similar to them , and would never have thought they were still being marketed in the early 1960s !

The other 1961 Stag Leaflet shows all the ranges designed by the husband and wife team of John and Sylvia Reid who are acknowledged as such in the brochure . Their 3 best known contemporary ranges are shown as is a traditional and boring design that was the predecessor of the Minstrel range which was going to be the backbone of the Stag business for well over 20 years . John ( 1925-1992 ) + Sylvia ( born 1924 ) were trained as architects and were employed by Stag from 1952 when the A Range was already being produced . The Cumberland range , later shortened to C Range was introduced in 1953 not long after the end of the wartime Utility Furniture Scheme had ended . By 1957 52% of Stag sales were from the still growing range . Fineline came in in 1960 and soon after Stag’s first dining set which we think of as the S Range .

Also in the 1961 leaflet along with the C Range , Fineline and dining pieces was the 1959 designed traditional oak Madrigal bedroom set which the Reids came up with to meet the demands of Stag’s traditional family owners . At first it wasn’t successful , but in 1963 appearing in a darker hardwood veneer called Makore and  under the name Minstrel it suddenly took off , and was made for some 40 years by Stag and the various companies that took over the name and business . By 1963 the Reids were so busy with their architectural work that they ended their design work for Stag . If you want to know more about the Reids and other influential British mid-century designers such as Robert Heritage , William Plunkett , Robin Day , as well as more recent names then it’s well worth buying an excellent book by Lesley Jackson called ” Modern British Furniture Design since 1945 “.

The most sought after Stag pieces today are from the ” S ” Range of dining and occasional furniture . Cutting edge pieces at mid-market prices , but not sold in large numbers at the time . Lesley Jackson points out that many retailers only perceived Stag as makers of bedroom furniture so didn’t want to sell it , but a big factor must have been that it was too radical and perhaps looked too much like pieces found in architects offices rather than domestic settings ! Sleek and still looking contemporary after over 50 years we find that it’s often had a hard life , so needs a lot of good restoration work . Firstly the quality of the finish was not as good as it might have been , but then the pricing when new must have influenced this . Secondly people who bought it new were ultra trendy , and will have often replaced it some 20 or 30 years later . In the 1970s and 80s pieces like this were not fashionable , but there was always then a market for cheap pieces for student rentals and the like . Students and other renters will not have been so careful as the original owners , pieces will have been knocked , scratched and marked with heat and water unfortunately .