A95_801.jpg Sample, Marquetry. Robert Wallath. Collection of Puke Ariki (A95.801).

This piece of fine marquetry shows how an infamous Taranaki outlaw saw the light and turned his life around.

Bob Wallath, a quiet young carpenter, terrorised New Plymouth during the early 1890s when he carried out a series of robberies while wearing an elaborate disguise. Nicknamed the Highwayman, Wallath had the whole district talking until he was unmasked during a failed attempt to rob the Criterion Hotel and sentenced to eight years jail.

He emerged from prison with strong religious convictions and went on to lead a quiet productive life as a builder in New Plymouth. Family friends remember him as a gentle, generous man. The surviving samples of his marquetry in the Puke Ariki Heritage Collection show he was also a patient and skilled craftsman.

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