The Gillows Workbox

Contributed by Judges Lodgings

This magnificent workbox is one of the finest examples made by Gillows of Lancaster. c Lancashire Museums Service.

The workbox was made in 1808 and features wood from Australia, only discovered 30 years earlier in 1770 by Capt. Cook.The workbox was made by Gillows of Lancaster in 1808. It is inlaid on the top, sides and inside the lid with seventy-two octagonal shaped specimens of woods, many exotic, from locations which include Australia, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, North and South America, the West Indies and Africa. Each of the woods is numbered and listed on a printed list, which accompanies the piece.
The scale of travel required to collect all of the different woods highlights the impressive world wide reach that Gillows of Lancaster had at this time. Captain Cook had only recently discovered Australia in 1770 so the wood specimen's from there were very rare indeed in 1808.
The piece is of global significance in casting light on the commercial activities of companies such as Gillows, which had made their fortunes in trade with the West Indies.

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