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Tom Clark

Published: June 25, 2021
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Dr. Thomas Fetzer Clark, or just Tom Clark, a native of Elizabethtown, North Carolina, graduated from Davidson College in 1949 with a degree in English. He continued his education receiving a Bachelor's in Divinity from Union Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Theology from University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Thomas also trained in sculpture at Roberts School of Art in Aberdeen, the Museum School of Art in Boston Massachusetts, and at City and Guilds of London School of Art. Before becoming a professor at Davidson College, he served briefly as a missionary in the Appalachian Mountains.

tom clark

Tom Clark gnomes

Religion played an important role in what he taught and the gnomes which he eventually sculpted to cast a magic spell over the country's collectibles market. Dr. Clark's father went to Davidson, as did other family members. As a matter of fact he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award at Davidson College in 1989, exactly forty years after his father had received his.

"When Professor Tom Clark '49 began sculpturing more than 40 years ago, he dug clay from the creek in the middle of Patterson Fraternity Court on the north side of Davidson's campus. In 1958 Clark had just come to Davidson as an assistant professor of religion. Clark, who eventually became an associate professor, doesn't have time to dig his own clay anymore because his sculpture has led him from what was 'Nothing but a hobby' to what is now 'a big business,' he said." -Connie McLean '80

Dr. Clark left Davidson College in 1985 to devote his time to the Gnome business with Cairn Studio.

"I am a creative person, and sometimes creative people like me don't fit in well in structured organizations like college. For me, it is very satisfying to have people come into my Davidson shop or into a dealer's and pick out a statue because they like it. They're not just coming to see me because they've run out of the permitted class absences for the quarter," Dr. Clark points out with a wry smile.

What really inspired him to sculpture gnomes were drawings in the 1976 bestselling book Gnomes by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet. He happened to come across the Dutch book during the summer of 1978 where he was a storyteller for a boy's camp.

With their antique look, the Woodspirits became very popular among collectors. Among Clark's fans, some of the most famous were former first lady Barbara Bush, actor Bob Newhart, and best-selling author Stephen King. Some avid collectors were even known to collect multiples of the same gnome, but with different paint schemes. Clark gave each statue a name and a story and surreptitiously placed a coin somewhere on it.

While in his nineties and no longer making gnomes, Tom Clark's art is still a staple in many homes.

Value

When new, Tom Clark gnomes usually cost between $20 and $60, and 2ndhand collectors' items start at $5 and can go up to $500 or more.

Links

Tom Clark value and price guide

What's your Tom Clark worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items with prices.

Item Title Date Price
Tom Clark Tom Clark 7 Up Turtle 1984 Tom Clark 7 Up Turtle 1984 Rare Artist 08/2021 $ 376.97
Tom Clark Tom Clark Gnome 13 PUPPY LOVE Tom Clark Gnome 13 PUPPY LOVE 29 COA 07/2021 $ 521.96
Tom Clark Collection of Tom Clark Gnome Collection Of Tom Clark Gnome Figurines 08/2021 $ 458.16
Tom Clark Tom Clark 9 Pc Nativity Tom Clark 9 Pc Nativity Figurine Set 09/2021 $ 404.81
Tom Clark Cairn Studios Tom Clark Cairn Studios Tom Clark Abraham Lincoln 08/2021 $ 405.97
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices10/2021-.--

Gnomes & Figurines forum

"Ask questions or share your stories." - John, Fabcollectibles


Thanks, comment waiting for approval!
Amanda - September 24, 2021
By any chance do you know what it means when the circled # has been knocked out drilled out? It is on purpose, you can tell by looking.
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WebmasterAmanda - September 25, 2021
I'm sorry, I have no idea. Maybe it's an unsold piece (like they did with books in the past) or maybe it has a flaw?
Jan - September 13, 2021
I have a Lum I am wanting to find the value of and am interested in selling. He is the rare one with the hole between him and the antler. He is signed and in very good to perfect condition.
John - September 8, 2021
Need creation and retired date for "Tee Time" Figurine?
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WebmasterJohn - September 8, 2021
This one is from the "Good witches" series. Not entirely sure when they were made. I found 1983-2010 but I'm not sure if that's accurate.
Rita - September 1, 2021
I am looking for any Tom clark gnomes that were painted by PS (Patricia J Smith) my mom painted these gnomes for many many years. She is passed away now and I would like to find one.
Christine - August 24, 2021
John, I have a 51-piece Cairn collection with all the certificates. They are in pristine condition because I am the original buyer and they have never left my home. I would like to sell them all in a lot. (retiring, down-sizing & major overseas move). Do you have any contacts that you could recommend that would be seriously interested in buying the whole lot? I have composed a list of all my figurines showing the Edition -& Certificate #'s, Date of Creation, Name of Artist, and the price I paid. I am not interested at all in getting the most buck out of each item - just a reasonable offer for the whole lot. Do you think you could help me with that? Thank you so very much.
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JohnChristine - August 27, 2021
Hi Christine, I'm afraid I can't help you with this. You could try to sell the lot on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or through a local auction house.
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JohnJohn - August 27, 2021
Thank you for your suggestions.
Julie - August 15, 2021
I have over 100 Tom Clark figures, and 30 Tim Wolfe (animal) figures. Some with both (Tom and Tim). I have full alphabet sets in each, and most of the numbers. Almost all are signed. Looking at retirement and downsizing, I am considering selling many.
Mitchell - August 1, 2021
Are the Santa gnomes valuable? We have 4 large Santa’s and then the small Santa and Mrs. Claus…
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JohnMitchell - August 2, 2021
Have a look at this list on eBay to see if you can find yours and some prices: Tom Clark Santa gnomes.
Christi - July 25, 2021
I have a few of Toms art works they seemed to bE named after members of my mothers family like the Marion . # 90 as well as different names carved in it i have two of the same as well as many others was wondering what this is worth now the bottom has a lot of different names in graved in it
Nikki - July 25, 2021
How much is a Retired Tom Clark " Johnny"
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JohnNikki - July 31, 2021
Approx. 10-20 USD.
Cyd - June 29, 2021
How many different characters exist?
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LindaCyd - August 11, 2021
I have a T. Clark gnome marked #34 T. Clark 1984 I don't know enough about them to have this conversation. How do you know it's real or fake?
Bobby - November 19, 2020
My parents were avid collectors and have hundreds of Tom Clark's gnomes (some signed, all in great condition). Wondering how to go about having them appraised (if that's even possible) and if there are any collectors still in the market for these types of items?
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JohnBobby - November 19, 2020
Sure, there are still gnome collectors out there. Though appraising them will be difficult and very time consuming. You could try using eBay as a kind of guide, or just try to sell them all together in a lot. Maybe look for a Tom Clark Gnome Facebook group where you can try as well. Good luck!
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