Stag Furniture

Stag furniture is no longer made, but there is a huge following for secondhand Stag pieces. Stag produced some innovative furniture in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Today Stag’s Minstrel furniture has a strong following with buyers eagerly searching eBay for pieces to complete their collection.

Stag was one of the first English furniture makers to go contemporary in the early 50s. They employed husband and wife team, John and Sylvia Reid, to design the cutting edge ‘C’ range of bedroom furniture. The new look was minimalist in the extreme, handles were abolished in favour of recessed grips. The wardrobe was only decorated by a mirror. The ‘C’ range looked stark and initially sales were slow. However, as the public became more used to contemporary design it became a winner for Stag.

John and Sylvia Reid’s association with Stag continued. Their next project was Madrigal. It was a range of furniture inspired, not by modern design, but by the past. Madrigal was meant to replace Stag’s aging ‘A’ range of traditional furniture. However, it was not a great success.

Stag’s Chairman, Vaughn Radford, still had faith in John and Sylvia Reid. Their next range for Stag became the best selling range of British furniture of all time. John and Sylvia Reid continued to look to the past for inspiration and developed Madrigal into Minstrel.

Minstrel was an evolution from Madrigal. It was inspired by the elegance of eighteenth century furniture, but reinterpreted for the modern world. Stag Minstrel furniture was made from makore (or African Cherry). It was of similar appearance to Madrigal, but had new, simpler brass ring handles. These and the simple design make Minstrel instantly recognisable.

The Reid’s design was complemented by Vaughn Radford’s commercial skill. He was able to buy

makore in huge quantities meaning that no other manufacturer could make anything similar in terms of quality for the same price.

The key ingredient to Minstrel’s success was timing. At its launch in 1964, the initial buzz around contemporary design was fading. Contemporary was not to everyone’s taste, even in the 50s. Minstrel combined the convenience of modern design with the elegance of antique furniture. It was not a direct reproduction, but captured the essence of antique style with a modern look. Minstrel was a marketing and design triumph.

Minstrel remained in production for nearly forty years and was Stag’s most successful range. Today it has a strong following with many buyers looking to eBay to update their collections and to search out those elusive pieces they did not manage to get at the time.

For more about Stag read my main feature and buying guide Stag furniture

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