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Thomas ‘Gnomeman’ Whittaker Rare Early Oak Coffer

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Stock ref: DS1637

Circa 1930s

A rare very early Thomas ‘Gnomeman’ Whittaker panelled oak Coffer / Storage Chest, made in the 1930s, before he had established his trademark gnome signature that is carved on pieces made from the 1940s onwards. Oak dowel pinned and adzed all over, the joinery and wood carving is in his  typical more rustic, less precise style than a Robert Thompson’s craftsman would use. Interestingly the coffer base is plywood which was a new material craftsmen were experimenting with at the time and is also frequently found on early 1930s made Mouseman pieces. Cleaned inside and out in our workshop the piece presents with a rich colour, slightly darker on the rear that has not been exposed to as much light over the years. All  the joints are structurally sound with just slight expected shrinkage of some inlaid panels.

Excellent provenance, privately acquired directly from the  surviving family of the former timber merchants and oak supplier in the pre and post war period to Robert Thompson and Thomas Whittaker, together with a professional house contents insurance valuation dated 1943, confirming the early age of this Gnomeman and other Mouseman bedroom furniture pieces we have purchased  from this estate. Full details can be provided to the purchaser.

Thomas whittaker (1910 -1991) lived and worked in York and later in Littlebeck, near Whitby, North Yorkshire. His trademark gnome is carved onto most, but not all, of his post war work and was inspired by a German Jewish refugee he met shortly before the outbreak of war who was judging a piece he had entered into the North of England Craftsmen’s Exhibition in Newcastle. He was asked to indentify the piece in some way and the judge suggested a gnome, this being the  ‘german oak spirit’,  the legend being that a gnome is born each time an acorn germinates and will guard that tree throughout its life. His work is now highly regarded and nearly as well known as Robert Thompson’s. His business ceased on his death and his former home and workshop is now a private residence. For those interested in learning more about his life and work we attach a link to a British Pathe newsreel from 1961 showing Thomas at work at Littlebeck. Gnomeman Thomas Whittaker

Size: 99.7(w) x 41.5(d) x 53.5(h)cm



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