London; cabinet maker and buhl manufacturer (fl. 1805–34)
At 19 Air St, Piccadilly from 1808–17 but by 1820 in Warwick St, Golden Sq., where the number was 22 to 1827 but 32 in 1829–30. The business attracted Royal patronage at an early stage and from 1805–09 was supplying Princess Elizabeth. By 1813, however, the firm numbered the Prince Regent amongst its customers and proudly advertised themselves as ‘Cabinet & Buhl Manufacturer to H.R.H. the Prince Regent & Royal Family’. They included in their stock ‘Ink Stands, Portfolios, Work Boxes, Chess & Backgammon Men & Boards’ and offered to clean and repair ‘India Japan, Or Molu, Bronzes &c’.
In 1812 Parker supplied to the 4th Marquess of Bath at Longleat a pair of commodes which are still at the house. He also supplied folio cabinets and repaired various articles (illus. Cator, Furniture History (1997), figs 1-4).
In 1813 Parker supplied two ‘Bhoule’ coffers on stands for the Prince Regent at Carlton House and in 1817 he supplied ‘A pair of Buhl coffers with stands richly ornamented with chased brass mouldings’ which cost £210, and ‘two round buhl tables with Boys chased heads Mouldings with drawer £210’ and ‘A pair of rich Buhl stands to hold light with carved & gilt ornaments £105’. Two coffers on stands survive, as do two tables which once supported coffers (illus. Van Duin, Furniture History (1989), figs 1-6). Another patron was the 6th Duke of Bedford who in October 1815 purchased two buhl inkstands for £16 and in 1821 ‘2 black Pedestals with gilt ornaments’ for £29 and further inkstands, some in ebony with brass mouldings. Two coffers on stands bearing Parker’s signature and matching those in the Royal Collection also survive at Woburn (ills. Van Duin, Furniture History (1989), fig. 8).
The Hon. Mrs Leigh for her London house made purchases between 1817–30. No less than £160 10s was spent in 1817 mostly on a pair of black ebony cabinets and a circular inlaid table both ornamented with ormolu. In August 1821 two further cabinets were invoiced utilising lacquer panels and costing together with two papier mâché trays £93 14s 1d. Her last known patronage was in 1830 when the main item was a satinwood miniature cabinet, mounted with ormolu which with some other minor items cost £20 11s 6d. Thomas Parker paid to repair three Indian ivory chairs for Sir John Soane, 1833-4. The bill was included in the account of George Carstairs. A brass and tortoiseshell marquetry stand engraved with ‘Parker Air St 19’, c.1815, is illustrated in Gilbert (1996), figs 716-717 and sold Sotheby’s, 8 July 1994, lot 156.
Source: DEFM; Van Duin, ‘Two Pairs of Boulle Caskets on Stands by Thomas Parker’, Furniture History (1989); Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840 (1996); Cator, ‘Thomas Parker at Longleat’, Furniture History (1997); Collard, ‘Soane and Furniture’, Furniture History (2008); Hirst, ‘The Realisation of Regency Palace: The 6th Duke of Bedford and the Redecoration of Woburn Abbey’, Furniture History (2017).