Are you sitting comfortably?


Another item with no proven connection to Guy Gibson, 617 Squadron or RAF Scampton has emerged for sale on eBay. According to the seller, this is:

An office chair as used by Guy Gibson in his office at Scampton in World War 2 . The special design was used only by senior RAF Officers in World War 2 and in Air Ministers offices . Designed by Edward Barnsley originally for the 1936 Coronation , and referred to as ” The Coronation Chair ” .Production was very limited and not many have survived after 75 years . The chair is made from solid oak with mortice and tennon joints throughout , is very sturdy and original finish of waxed oak revived . The chair is stamped with a crown and coronation and has been professionally re upholstered in olive hide .Check on the Guy Gibson office website and The Dambusters film for provenance  .
[Spelling etc as in original]

The chair itself may well be a genuine “Coronation Chair”, and therefore worth a small amount of money. But there is no evidence at all that this was ever at RAF Scampton, let alone used by Guy Gibson or anyone else based there. The seller has tried to claims it is “as used” by Gibson – rather than saying it was definitely there – but then in the headline, states that it is a “Guy Gibson office chair”.
Their statement is based on the modern day refurbishment of the office at Scampton, which can be seen in the picture below, and which features a chair of a similar pattern. However, none of the people involved in the refurbishment have ever claimed that the furniture in the reconstructed office is definitively the same as that used in wartime.


Pic: Ross Corbett

The only picture taken of Guy Gibson in his office at Scampton was this well known photograph of him and David Maltby, taken in July 1943:

IWM TR1122

Pic: IWM TR1122

Note that in this picture Gibson is leaning slightly to his right, and his left arm may therefore be on the armrest of the chair (although it is difficult to be certain of this). If the chair had a light-coloured wooden arm, this would probably be visible. However, nothing can be seen here.
In summary, we can say again that even if the chair is a genuine 1936 pattern, it is wishful thinking that it has any connection to Gibson or RAF Scampton. Once more we must caution, buyer beware!
(If, however, you are reading this after 5pm on Monday 31 October 2016, the chair may have already have been sold.)
Thanks to Nigel Favill for information.


7 thoughts on “Are you sitting comfortably?

  1. Maureen Gray October 31, 2016 / 3:23 pm

    It amazes me how people try to profit by saying these things when there is no actual proof that Guy Gibson used this particular chair, I just hope that people will not be silly enough to believe this story & not buy it !

  2. Mike Farrier October 31, 2016 / 4:06 pm

    Hello Charles,

    Hmmmm, an interesting and possibly dubious original claim indeed! I must admit to enlarging the photo of Guy Gibson and David Maltby, and you can indeed see a light brown (or is it ‘flesh coloured’) object under Gibson’s right hand, which could of course be the arm of a wooden chair…or maybe just his thumb, bent under his hand as in a pointing gesture! By the way he’s sitting though, I think he looks like his arms are indeed resting on something. My comment is of course of no help in the chair authenticity stakes, but I just thought I’d mention that it could at least point to the possibility that Gibson’s chair in that photo DID POSSIBLY have long, high arms. It’s probably impossible to quote the authenticity of ANY armed forces furniture item after such a long time. I doubt if many people could do that in the relative privacy of their own homes after 30 years, let alone after 73!!

    Hope this is of marginal interest, for what it’s worth. Please keep up the excellent work!

    Best regards,

    Mike Farrier

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

  3. Christianna F November 1, 2016 / 3:10 pm

    Had an eBay conversation with Tanka and seems it didn’t sell surprise surprise.Explained to them they did not have any true provenance. They said it was based on the reconstruction of Gibson office at Scampton which I explained was only a representation. Told them to call Scampton too.Also the film reference was tenuous too as we know so much in the film was incorrect. Suggested he re list it is chair as issued to some RAF officers not all and without any evidence that Gibson had such a chair in his office he should delete that association as there is no proof.He has said he will clear it with eBay before re listing but as I explained he must have validated proof before pretending this chair is in any way linked to Gibson.Watch this space!

  4. Richard Hickmott November 3, 2016 / 4:39 am

    It’s crazy – seems most are jumping on the Dambuster bandwagon. This is a good reason to avoid auction sites selling items where the seller(s) are making wild claims (and largely inaccurate).

  5. Tom Evans November 7, 2016 / 11:54 am

    Hi Ross, Your old friend Tom Evans here still at the RAF Scampton Heritage centre.

    We at the RAF Scampton HC do not profess that the chair or desk in Gibson’s office is the original chair or desk as used by Gibson during his tenure of that office in No. 2 Hanger in 1943 only that it is of the same time period and as issued to be used in a “Squadron Commanders” office i.e. Wing Commander and above. I’m sure though that Air Officer ranks would have had even finer chairs.

    If you let me have your email I will take some photos of the chair and let you have them


  6. Nigel Favill November 7, 2016 / 4:54 pm

    Hi Tom , good to hear that you are still busy up there … Hope to pop up again soon .

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