Images courtesy of The Modern Warehouse
The Stag S Range sideboard: a potted history
The Stag S Range sideboard, designed by husband and wife partnership John and Sylvia Reid, remains an iconic piece of post-war British furniture design. It was unlike anything else that was being offered to the mass market at the time. Its confident, yet delicate use of wood and steel seems to offer an uncompromisingly modern vision of the future. John and Sylvia Reid’s partnership with Stag began in 1953 with the design of the Cumberland or C Range bedroom furniture. This proved a great success and in 1959, Stag commissioned them to design a new range of dining furniture. Many view the Stag S Range that followed as the highlight of John and Sylvia Reid’s association with Stag.
Buying a Stag S Range sideboard: tips from mid century expert Mark Parrish of Mark Parrish Mid Century Modern
What can you tell us about the design of the Stag S Range sideboard?
The Stag S Range consisted of varying shaped dining tables with afromosia-backed chairs, twinned with a short and a long sideboard finished in oiled teak. All these pieces stood on satin finished metal legs. The sideboards are perhaps the most interesting pieces in the range, with their characteristic V-shaped legs and L-shaped handles. There is a great attention to detail throughout the design, adding to the sense of quality. They were also sold with different cupboard and internal drawer options: all the doors and draw fronts sit flush with the carcass, giving it a particularly sleek and sharp look. The handles were all custom-made and are recessed neatly on the top of the drawer and door fronts. All the internal surfaces were veneered with beech, creating a strong contrast with the darker teak exterior. The steel work was nickel-plated, giving a light and modern look.
The leg shape on the Stag S Range sideboard was probably borrowed from Robin Day’s slatted bench from the Hille Interplan Range of 1954. For this, Robin Day was almost certainly influenced by George Nelson’s work in the USA for Herman Miller. Both the Reids worked with Robin Day early in their careers, so they would have been very aware of his designs. Stag S Range sideboards could be teamed together to create varying configurations and there is a great advert of the period that shows three in a row to dramatic effect.
Over what time period was the Stag S Range sideboard manufactured?
The Stag S Range were produced between 1960 and 1963, after which time it was discontinued due to a lack of commercial success. Ironically, it was the more traditional Minstrel range that was the most commercially successful of all John and Sylvia Reid’s designs for Stag, proving that British taste at the time was still largely rooted to the past.
How easy is it to get hold of a Stag S Range sideboard?
Because the Stag S Range was only manufactured for a relatively short time period, it is rarer than other mid century furniture by John and Sylvia Reid. It has not been reissued or reproduced, so you know you are getting a genuine vintage piece. We regularly stock the Stag S Range at Mark Parrish Mid Century Modern, as do The Modern Warehouse and Fragile Design.
They also appear every few months on internet auction sites.
Should a buyer seek out particular detailing on a Stag S Range sideboard?
When, inspecting a Stag S Range sideboard, make sure all internal drawers are present (if this was an option): there were usually three drawers, but two is acceptable, and these were normally felt lined. Some retain the original removable cutlery tray, a beautiful design in its own right. Early examples have characteristic custom-made hinges that sit in a slot on the door fronts, later examples have a more traditional barrel hinge (introduced to cut production costs). There should be a metal Stag badge on the inside of a door, sometimes with a retailers badge as well.
How concerned should a buyer be about the condition of a Stag S Range sideboard?
The condition of vintage furniture is always an issue and will affect the value of any piece. With the Stag S Range sideboard, it’s important to look out for corrosion on the metal legs, wear to the nickel plating on the handles and staining to the internal beech veneered surfaces. Make sure the black laminate strip along the bottom front edge is intact and not damaged, as they often need gluing back. The back corners of the Stag S Range sideboard will have invariably got knocked over the years and there are often ring marks on the top. If you know what you are doing, restoration should be fairly straight-forward. We restore these vintage pieces all the time.
What can a buyer expect to pay for a Stag S Range sideboard?
Buyers should expect to pay between £500 and £900 for a short sideboard and between £1,000 and £1,750 for a long sideboard. Prices should reflect condition and detailing.
Does the Stag S Range sideboard make a good long-term investment?
Prices have crept up over the last few years as the Stag S’Range gains new admirers and British post-war design continues to increase in value in general. They will undoubtedly become harder to find in the future. I would buy one while you still can, but buy it first and foremost because you love it and because they really are so damn cute!
For more on the Stag S Range, see Buyer’s Guide: The Stag S Range Sideboard by John and Sylvia Ried in MidCentury 04
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