Tuesday 16th March 2021 - Belle Gait
We have a look at Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson pieces up for sale this month.
With the recent news that a Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson carving sold for over four times its estimate at auction, it is clear that his stunning works of art are in demand at present, with serious collectors grappling to get their paws on the beautiful carvings.
But who was Robert Mouseman Thompson, and where did the endearing little mouse come from?
Born in 1876 in Kilburn, North Yorkshire, Robert Thompson was a British furniture maker. He took over his father's business after his tragic death in 1895 and later set up a business making oak furniture for the residents of his hometown. Considered a signature part of the revival of craftsmanship that took place in the 1920s, Thompson was inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement.
Sometime after 1924 saw the signature mouse's emergence; however, the little trademark wasn't actually officially registered until 1931. According to the story told, Robert Thompson and a fellow carver were working on a huge cornice for a church screen. His colleague commented on the fact that they were just as poor as a church mouse. As such, Robert chose to carve a mouse on the screen, and this saw the birth of the notorious little rodent trademark and the dubbing of 'Mouseman'. Sadly, to this day, the original mouse has never been found.
The 'Mouseman' mouse cartouche which sold earlier this month was estimated at £2000 - £3000. However when it went under the hammer in North Yorkshire it actually sold for £13000 plus buyer's premium! Dubbed The Mouseman of Kilburn, this capricious figure is 27cm tall and dressed in a joiners apron. He grasps a lattice panel which has been seen previously on other Mouseman chair backs. He also holds a mallet in his other hand.
One such carving does live in the Kilburn museum, but this scarce figure was seen at auction for the first time on 6th March. The seller, a regular visitor to the Mouseman workshops in Kilburn, was often able to directly commission the crafts and, as such, had been collecting them for over 40 years.
Whilst this cute little rare rodent may have gone to a new home, we do have a few Mouseman items consigned with some of our sellers and going up for sale this month.
Know a smoker? This carved oak ashtray has the sweet signature mouse on top; it's Lot No 272 in the Eastbourne Auctions sale starting on 24th March.
Antique Robert Mouseman Thompson oak chopping board estimated at £100 - £150. It will go under the hammer with Bowler & Binnie Ltd in their Antique, Collectors & Interior Sale this Saturday.
The 26th March Fine Art Sale held by Sheffield Auction Gallery sees a wonderful selection of Mouseman items, including four oak lattice back dining chairs, an octagonal dining table and a quirky tea trolley.
Bamfords Auctioneers & Valuers will be selling this Mouseman of Kilburn bowl. This oak bowl is estimated at £200 - £300 and will be Lot No 1145 in their 3-Day Sale starting on 24th March.
Don't forget you can set alerts to keep your eye on the ball for any new pieces added to our auctioneer's catalogues. You can bid across any of these auctions for a flat fee of just £3 each!