Female furniture leading the way at Bellmans


One of a Harlequin set of four Windsor chairs, from the workshop of Elizabeth Gabbitass of Worksop, is attracting attention in the wake of the female empowerment drive currently making international headlines.

The first recorded Windsor chair maker in Worksop was John Gabbitass, who worked alongside his younger brother Henry. On the death of John Gabbitass in 1839, the business (unusually for the time) passed to John’s wife Elizabeth, who remained proprietess until her death in the 1840s, when the company was continued by Henry. The business had its own unique stamp for the duration of Elizabeth’s tenure; ‘E. Gabbitass Worksop’ (illustrated below). Bellmans furniture cataloguer William Pasfield comments: “although traditional and simple in design, the chair represents a modern and sophisticated viewpoint held by the Gabbitass workshop in the 19th century. It is especially pertinent in the current social climate to draw attention to just how unusual it was at the time to have female furniture makers at all, let alone one with their own patented stamp. The chair is beautiful in both design and craftsmanship, and stands alongside examples from Elizabeth Gabbitass’ male contemporaries in this auction lot”.

Gabbitass stamp

The chair, along with three others, is lot 1748 in Bellmans Sussex’s Spring Fine Auction (15th – 17th May), and carries an auction estimate of £600-1,000.

The entire auction is on view from Friday 11th May, and will be fully illustrated online from Tuesday 8th May. Online bidding is available via For more information and to register your interest, please contact Bellmans Auctioneers directly on 01403 700858, or email chair