Hunting for vintage footstools

This needlepoint footstool was made in the mission style, and can complement many different design elements in the home.

I have had this little needlepoint footstool for many years — it is sitting right here in my own living room at this very moment. I don’t use it much, but when my little great-grandsons come to visit, almost readily, one of those darling boys will plop right down on it and sit and talk with me.

Now that I think of it — next time I need to take a quick photo with them sitting on it because soon they will be too big to do that.

This would be called a “mission” style footstool with a beautifully embroidered top and lots of padding underneath. I wish they would have put their initials on it somewhere when they finished those many hours of embroidery work. I wish I had a bit more history about this particular stool that sits in my home and I see every day.

I do have a family iron footstool in my storage, which I need to bring in and put it in front of my dad’s family recliner that a dear friend recovered for me. I will have to do an article on it again in the near future. It carries some of my treasured memories and moments, for sure. Sadly, it is very fragile and cannot be sat on as one of the old iron springs has sprung its last bounce. Or I should just say — it has a broken spring on one side of the chair so it sits a bit lopsided. But, it happens to be one of my most favorite family items on my dad’s side — his grandfather used to sit in it. Wow, talk about nostalgic moments all of a sudden — memories come flooding in like an ocean wave.

Well, on about my footstool in my photo today: A simple way to describe mission style items and furniture is the very simple horizontal and vertical lines — many pieces have so called flat panels originating in the squarish style of mission furniture. Stickley Brothers was the most important promoter for this style.

It caught on big time as we were just coming out of the Victorian era and people wanted a more simple lifestyle, and not such an extreme design.

Wikipedia describes the design philosophy of mission-styled furniture: “Gustav Stickley produced arts and crafts furniture often referred to as being in the mission style, though Stickley dismissed the term as misleading.

This was plain oak furniture that was upright, solid and suggestive of entirely handcrafted work, though in the case of Stickley and his competitors, was constructed within a factory by both machine and handworking techniques.”

Just because of the style of my little footstool this week, it makes me think that mission or arts and crafts furniture complements any style in any home. That is the uniqueness of this make of furniture. Simply said: It goes with anything.

I had a beautiful supply or pantry cupboard that we found years ago (we found out later it was originally used as a school supply cabinet), but had sat in a dark pantry in a basement for many years and was painted black or had many coats of dark varnish on it to make it look black.

I have told this story many times before, but it touches my heart every time I think about it. My dad came down to our house one day and asked if we had anything he could work on or strip for us. We gave him that old cupboard. A few days later, he called me and wanted me to come take a look at it. You would not believe how beautiful that piece of furniture was.

Even without any oil or stain, the grain of the wood shone through — beautiful quarter-sawn oak — it was one of my most favorite pieces of furniture that we had ever purchased. It had been out in our Quonset for years, sitting in the corner, waiting to be stripped and refinished. It has special meaning because my father passed away a few years later. My youngest son has it displayed in his home now — using it as a special place for all their photo albums and keepsakes.

Not getting attached to some of my pieces of furniture and small items through all my years of antiquing — since my oldest son was 1 year old — is utterly difficult for me. Every item you may collect or find through years of hunting for treasures has a story behind it. I know they are just things, but sometimes those so-called “things” may be the only moments in your life where you feel really good about yourself. Family, friends and my antiques are my “bestest” treasures in the whole wide world.

When you go treasure hunting, please do not forget to look at the worst old cupboard (or whatever) you have ever seen and remind yourself of what it could be with a bit of sprucing up.

And, by the way, my “What’s it Worth” antique classes have been recently moved to a new site — check us out at Wild Bill’s Fun Center, 1100 S. Jeffers St

The classes are from 5-7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays with dinner at 5 p.m. and the class starting at 6 p.m. Bring one item and I will try to identify it for for a $5 fee. I will give approximations on its value. We have a fun time, and you get to see many other neat items or treasures other people have brought to class.

Or call me at 308-530-4572, and I will be glad to answer any questions you may have. Have a beautiful week, everyone!

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