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Gaffer Gamgee

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Revision as of 21:43, 6 March 2008

"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
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Hamfast "Gaffer" Gamgee
Stephen Hickman - Gaffer Gamgee and the Black Rider.jpg
Biographical Information
BirthS.R. 1326
DeathS.R. 1428
ParentageHobson Gamgee + ?
Physical Description
Hair colorPossibly brown, later gray
GalleryImages of Hamfast "Gaffer" Gamgee

Gaffer Gamgee was the father of Samwise Gamgee, who was more properly called 'Hamfast'. He presumably acquired the name 'Gaffer' later in his life, because it implies a person of advanced years. This was certainly true of Hamfast, who was old enough to remember Bilbo's return from Erebor, and was no less than ninety-two years old when his son Sam left the Shire with Frodo.

'Gaffer' has another meaning, too, which is no doubt also relevant. In British slang, a 'gaffer' is a foreman, a person who supervises a job. At the time of Bilbo's Birthday Party, we're told that Hamfast, who was then seventy-five, oversaw the gardening at Bag End, but was helped by his son Sam. In that sense, then, Gaffer Gamgee actually was a 'gaffer'.

The name may have been inspired by Joseph Gamgee, the inventor of "Gamgee Tissue" (better known as cotton wool) who was known to have lived opposite Tolkien on Stirling Road, Birmingham, England.