Stag furniture

Stag Minstrel dressing table

Stag furniture was a mass market manufacturer that made some outstanding modern designs. They employed John and Sylvia Reid as design consultants.  Their first designs for Stag, the 'C' range, were minimalist in the extreme. Later John and Sylvia Reid designed 'Minstrel', which united eighteenth century elegance and modern day thinking. Stag Minstrel was one of the most successful ranges of furniture ever produced.

Stag 'C' range

The first project John and Sylvia Reid did for Stag was a new range of bedroom furniture called Cumberland. They took functionalist principles to their logical conclusion and designed a range of furniture that was cheap to mass produce, but was of high quality. There was no pretence that this new furniture was handmade by craftsmen; it was built by machine and was meant to look like it.

The original range was just one bedroom suite: a 3 ft wardrobe, a three-drawer chest and four-drawer chest with a mirror to allow either chest to be used as a dressing table. The units were stark in the extreme. There were no handles; the drawers and doors had recessed hand grips instead. All were straight sided boxes. The wardrobe was simply decorated with a plain mirror only nine inches wide placed to the left hand side. However, it was good enough for its purpose. Stag advertised it as for 'the young in heart and in pocket' and for a design of this quality, it was amazingly cheap.

Stag C range, 1950s

Stag's Chairman, Vaughn Radford, was not impressed with Cumberland. He thought it would never sell. His two sons, however, loved it. At first, Vaughn was right. Sales were slow; no more than £5,000 in the first year. It took a while for people to accept such a stark design. However, interest in the range grew dramatically and by 1957 it was earning more than £500,000 a year for Stag.

As well as being a commercial success, the 'C' range had a strong influence on the design of mass market modern furniture throughout the fifties.

Stag Madrigal

Stag announced a surprising departure when the Company launched a new range of bedroom furniture called Madrigal, which visually derived inspiration from the past. Just as Stag shocked the industry in 1953 when they launched the almost Cubist 'C' Range, Madrigal was just as revolutionary.

John and Sylvia Reid, Stag's design consultants, also designed the new range. Madrigal echoed the simple elegance of the eighteenth century, but was not a copy. It was finished in traditional Honduras mahogany and had antique style brass handles. Madrigal though, was nothing like traditional furniture.

There was a perfectly commonsense commercial reason for Madrigal. Stag's contemporary 'C' range was now well established and offered customers a choice of more fashionable, darker walnut, rather than the original light oak. Stag's traditional 'A' range was outselling it though. Stag wanted a range of modern furniture, made on a modern production line that would nonetheless appeal to customers who did not like contemporary. Stags directors also reasoned that traditional looking furniture would give people a break from modern life, especially in the bedroom.

Madrigal ought to have been a runaway success, but it did not sell well. However, the idea was a good one and John and Sylvia Reid developed it further in the sixties.

Stag's modern furniture

Stag furniture, 1960

In 1960, John and Sylvia Reid produced a stunning teak dining set for Stag. It was Stag's first venture into dining room furniture and set the firm apart from its competitors. The low, long sideboard was in teak veneer on slender satin finished steel legs. It could be assembled in units giving the impression of a single piece of furniture that was 10 feet long. The sideboard, combined with some elegant metal dining chairs with wooden backrests and a beautiful oval dining table in teak with steel legs, in the right setting, made a very luxurious looking dining room.

This new Stag furniture was adaptable and suited much smaller rooms. Sideboard units of 3 feet and 4 feet 6 inches in length could be used on their own. All of the pieces were inexpensive for the quality of the design. The 4' 6" sideboard cost only 26 [410 in today's money], the dining chairs 8 15s [138] and the table 17 [268]. These amounts, however, were still significant investments for working families in the sixties.

Stag continued with their policy of innovative modern design. A couple of months after introducing the new dining room furniture, the Company launched a new range of bedroom furniture to replace the popular 'C' range. Also designed by John and Sylvia Reid, this new range featured metal legs and satin polished steel handles too. To modern eyes, it resembles office furniture, but at the time, it was perfectly suitable for a modern bedroom. They finished the new furniture in revolutionary Fineline birch veneer. Fineline was a new veneer that had straight grain lines and was easy to match.

A year later John and Sylvia Reid produced a modern lounge suite with a steel frame. However, this and the dining furniture were far from successful and Stag discontinued both ranges in early 1963.

Stag Minstrel

Stag Minstel, 1964

Stag's Madrigal range, introduced in the fifties, did not sell well. However, the Company's relationship with its creators, John and Sylvia Reid, continued. After designing some stunning modern furniture for Stag, the couple updated the traditional Madrigal range in 1964. The new range was Stag's best selling range of furniture, and possibly the best selling UK furniture range ever. Named Minstrel, the new range was an evolution of Madrigal.

Stag Minstrel furniture was made from makore (or African Cherry), both solid and veneered. It was of similar appearance to the earlier Madrigal, but had new, simpler brass handles.

Stag Minstrel was a great hit. Enough people had a liking for traditional style English furniture, without wanting genuine antique or modern reproduction. Minstrel gave them modern, practical and functional furniture that sacrificed no functionality to eye appeal, yet looked as elegant as any eighteenth century piece. It was also very good value for money. Stag's quantity buying of timber, efficient production and economies of scale meant no other manufacturer could offer similar designs at the same price.

Stag Minstrel found a place in the market that no-one had previously tapped. The adaptability of the design supported what eventually became a vast range. Stag Minstrel remained in production for nearly forty years.

Buy Stag furniture

I have found the best place to shop for any vintage or retro furniture is eBay. The choice is widest, you get to compare a number of different lots and you generally get a bargain price. You might pick up a bargain at a boot sale or charity shop, but eBay saves you the leg work.

Since Stag furniture covered a very wide range I have provided a number of different links. It is difficult to search for ranges such as Rondo or 'C' Range as most sellers don't describe them properly. These links should help you find the Stag pieces you are looking for.

  • Stag bedroom:
  • Stag dining room:
  • Stag living room:


Your comments on Stag furniture

I am selling a Stag Dining ROom Suite - table with four chairs - french dresser and hifi cabinet. Where would you recommend selling this furniture. It is also in good condition although the chairs do need cleaning.

Helen.
Helen Proud

my contact details for anyone wanting my dining room suite is 07725754821 or proudhouse@aol.com. Please keep trying my number if it does not answer as I cannot get a signal when I am at work. The furniture is in Newcastle upon Tyne. Helen Proud

hi bob wayne i am interested in your limed oak stag bed room suite i love it you left no contact please email me janetstevens clive@clivestevens4.orangehome.co.uk janet stevens

Hi.
WANTED - I am looking to replace my circular Stag Minstrel dining table. It is the four leg version rather than the pedestal one which is approx 45" in dia and extends. Looking for one in central Scotland - Does anyone have one for sale - cash waiting for table in top condition - can collect.
Thanks, John Duncan
John

I am selling Stag wardrobe in excellent condition. Dimensions: H 177cm (c.70"), W 121.5cm (c.48"), D 56cm (c.22"). Lovely, warm dark brown original colour. Two hanging rails, one shelf and one shoe rail. Very spacious, cute and homely! Wish I could keep it!

Cannot see which type of Stag; could someone suggest where to look, please.
Must collect; located in Camberwell, London SE5.
Please make me an offer.
Many thanks
Gordana 07958 975 664
Gordana

Hi,

I am selling a stag madrigal welsh dresser in medium oak - this is the relaunched range from the mid 1970's. Reasonably good condition (consistent with it's age). Measurements are 4'4" x 6'6". 150 ono.
Please find a picture here: http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=11rzomq&s=7

Buyer must collect from Rotherham, S Yorks.

Please e-mail me if you are interested - jandent@jandent.plus.com

Many Thanks.
Jan

I have a Stag Madrigal dining set in mid brown maple to sell. There is a pedestal table that extends to seat 10 people but is used now unextended with the original four chairs. Once lived in a large house and now in a compact town house so reluctant forced sale. Offers around 400 tel: 07720049701.
I live in Hull, East Yorkshire.
josephine holden

Sorry my Stag Madrigal table purchased in 1980, seats 8 when extended, not 10 as stated. It is great for setting out a copious buffet! Josephine

Hi Iam looking for Stage Minstral dining table and chairs, also corner display unit and either bookcase or display unit to fit 38" alcove. I live in Derby and would prefer it if sellers were local to my area. Maureen Bird

My e-mail address is mmbird2000@yahoo.co.uk Maureen Bird

I have a Stag Madrigal Dining suite in maple for sale, bought in 1977 with the original brochure.It is in very good condition with only one or two minor marks. It comprises four chairs and two carvers, with rectangular table and 2 door sideboard with dresser top. Must collect from the Poole area. Any offers? derek.monk@talktalk.net Derek Monk

I have a Stag Madrigal Maple Rectagular extending table + 2 carver and 4 dinging chairs (one has damaged spindles)+ 2 door cupboard with glass fronted 2 shelf bookcase top. purchase approx 1977. For sale Paul Verity

I have a Stag Madrigal Maple Rectagular extending table + 2 carver and 4 dinging chairs (one has couple damaged spindles)+ 2 door cupboard with glass fronted 2 shelf bookcase top. purchase approx 1977. For sale 85.00 for table and chairs, 85.00 for bookcase to collect - St Albans - Pls contacr Paul Verity 01727 764 517 or mail paul.verity@ntlworld.com PAUL VERITY

04.01.11 I am looking for a Stag Minstral 4 drawer bedside cabinet. A pair would be fantastic! Good condition if possible. Perth (Central Scotland) Please contact me at cdeuchars@live.co.uk Carol

Stag's Modern Furniture
I have a 1960's John and Sylvia Reid teak dining table, 4 chairs and matching sideboard, as pictured above, that I inherited from my Nan and am now looking to sell. Please get in touch if you are interested. Cardiff.
Carrie

For sale
Stag Versaille Cherrywood extending Dining Table and 6 chairs.
Stag Versaille Cherrywood Sideboard. Lovely condition. Bought new in 1998. Can send pictures. Not sure how much to ask - any advice?
malcolm fieldsend

Looking for Stag Minstrel 3 door 3 drawer compact sideboard in dark mahogany with removable plinth and top edge to join other stag minstrel furniture in the same range. Renfrewshire but will pay and courier for right item. Bob

Looking for Stag Minstrel 3 door 3 drawer compact sideboard in dark mahogany with removable plinth and top edge to join other stag minstrel furniture in the same range. Renfrewshire but will pay and courier for right item. robert.moffett1@ntlworld.com Bob Moffett

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