Stanley Furniture’s American Forum line – a 12-page catalog from the company’s archives

Vintage-Stanely-American-ForumWhen I interviewed Stanley Furniture’s Randy Wells about the company’s project to collect and refurbish some classic Stanley pieces, I also extracted a promise. As part of the project, the Stanley team has been collecting vintage Stanley Furniture catalogs — and they said we could publish them here! Stanley’s scans are now in our hot little hands… and today, to get started: A look at The American Forum line. Designed by resident-designer H. Paul Browning, the American Forum line appears to have been designed with the “compact living” spaces of terrace apartments in mind. The lines are relatively simple… the wood stain, medium-toned, about as timeless as it gets. 12 pages follow. 

Design-21-vintage-stanley-furnitureAbove: I don’t have an exact date for this furniture line, but a scribble on the back suggests early 1960s. The brief at the front of the catalog is kind of… weirdly written. Seems like the American Forum line — either by itself or as part of a larger “A Principium of Design 21” series — is meant to forecast design for the 21st century. I looked up “principium” and it means ‘fundamental principles.’ Hey: Considering today’s revitalization of mid-century modern design, this Stanley forecast was not too far off. Here is this page in text for the google bots and for your ease of reading, too:

Design 21 — by Stanley

An exciting, stimulating forecast of the 21st century’s architecture, science and way of life. The changing big city living, with suburban innovations. The ever changing suburbia of metropolitan terrace apartments, give evidence to the increasing compatibility of furniture and architecture. H. Paul Browning, resident-designer, has reached the ultimate in this new concept of “compact living.” A freshness of perception is evident in the “cosmopolitan” wood finishes, created to blend with the wonderful lift of lighthearted color — the flash of red — the warmth of sunny yellow or the drama of stark white. These rare combinations fill every demand of “round the clock” cosmopolitan living, assuring a maximum of comfort with a minimum of care — Design 21 — by Stanley. A stride forward in contemporary living.

vintage-stanley-furniture-catalogAbove: What a wonderful graphic. Again — I think this was meant to be forecasting what our dwellings might look like in the 21st century.

vintage-Stanley-furniture-triple-dresserAbove: One of the pieces spotlighted in the catalog — a long dresser.

stanley furniture american forum buffetAbove: A buffet that Stanley purchased vintage and totally refurbished — like new condition, ready to go for another 50 years.



Above: Catalog pages. The fact that the furniture is set on tall-ish legs speaks to its intended use in smaller spaces, I think. Sitting high off the ground like this makes the furniture seem less heavy, less blocky, makes the rest of the space feel larger.

Stanley-American-Forum-FurnitureAbove: Scribbles on the back of the catalog indicate some final production occurred in 1964.

Readers, what do you think about Stanley’s early-1960s forecast about living in the 21st century?

Many thanks to Stanley Furniture for providing these wonderful archival materials!

Readers: More vintage Stanley Furniture catalogs to come!

Slide show — larger images — of the Stanley Furniture American Forum catalog:

To view slide show click on any thumbnail; it will enlarge; move forward or back via the arrows underneth the photo; you can start or stop at any image:

  1. Dave says:

    I just came across this while looking for information on the American Forum line from Stanley. My wife and I bought the triple dresser, chest, desk, 2 night tables and the larger mirror when we got married in the fall of 1963. No need to restore these pieces since they look just as good today as they did when new.

    One interesting item: when delivered, the drawer pulls were (of course) not installed. For over 55 years, ours have been pointed up, not down as shown in the catalog.

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Lucky and smart you for having bought this furniture — it’s a beautiful line! So: Are you going to flip the drawer pulls around? 🙂

      1. Dave says:

        No, I really like the pulls upwards. (I think downwards looks like sort of a sad face.)

        Small addendum: we also bought one of the dining chairs to go with the desk.

    2. Matt Siemer says:

      I just bought a full bedroom set from the original owner and their handles are facing up too! That’s the first thing I noticed about the catalog as well.

  2. ANTHONY BURZI says:

    Would you have any information on the Stanley “Royal American” line designed by H. Paul Browning. I inherited a dining room set from my aunt. It is walnut with rosewood inlay, consisting of six chairs (no arms, table with three leaves and credenza with top hutch that has sliding doors. Many thanks.

  3. Keith says:

    Hello! I hope this is still an active thread since I can’t find an answer to some questions. I recently found, what I’m assuming is a hutch, a Stanley that someone was throwing in the garbage. I asked btw. It has 3 shelves and two still perfect sliding glass doors on the top, a long shelf below that with green felt on the right for silverware, 3 drawers on the left on the bottom and a cabinet door on the right. Marked with the Stanley distinctive furniture logo on the inside of the long drawer on the left. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Keith. Don’t know… this is not a site to ID furniture, I just occasionally post things that come my way that may discuss them.

    2. Stacy says:

      It sounds like the small hitch from the mix and match collection
      There is a great post about the line on this site
      Hope you see this!

  4. Lea Howard says:

    I have the Ole (paprika red) Twin girls bedroom set including Twin headboard/footboard, desk/hutch, armoire and floor mirror. Also the 3 legged chair and nightstand. These pieces also were displayed in an ad I found online, as wall units limited space areas. original owner purchased in 1966, and still in really good shape. Not sure what to do with it, but not painting..

    1. Leslie Syniec says:

      Hi! I’m looking for a furniture ad for the Stanley Olé set I had as a child. Any idea where i can get one? I heard it may have been in a Better Homes & Gardens but not sure month or year. Thanks!
      Would also love to find a few of the actual furniture pieces

  5. barbara griggs says:

    love the catalogs! Im trying to get more info on Stanleys Linear Precision group. I picked up a funky desk that has to be from this line but I cant find anything on it. Has the rosewood bowtie inlay and the hardware . Maybe I will ask Stanley !thanks

  6. AmandaHess says:

    I have a mid century hutch I was wondering the value of. It’s very space efficient. Walnut finish n stamped distinctive furniture by Stanley

  7. Rebecca says:

    I’m very late in finding this site, but do you have the full catalog posted somewhere. I am looking into buying a dining set that has this dresser as the base for the hutch. The table and chairs for the set is on the cover and I would love to see the specs for those. Also, does the catalog contain any pricing? I would love to know what these items originally sold for. Thanks!

  8. Annette says:

    I have one of the original dressers…. I am desperate to find one piece of the original hardware! Help????!!!!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Needle in a haystack, alas. Look for another piece – and harvest a pull…. that’s what I’d try for. Or, replace them all so’s they match. You can probably get “close” with new… See our Kitchen Help/Cabinet Hardware subcategory for stories about cabinet pulls — https://retrorenovation.com/category/kitchen/cabinet-hardware/ My first stop would probably be Liz’s Antique Hardware and I’d also check Rejuvenation

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