Drawn from several private collections, many of the pieces are sold with excellent provenance, and all date from the 1920s and 1930s. Tennants’ 20th Century Design Specialist Diane Sinnott said: “We have been very privileged at Tennants to sell some wonderful pieces of Mouseman furniture over the years, but we have never had a sale with so many important early pieces with such excellent provenance. This really is an exceptional auction”.
A fine group of bedroom furniture made for Kate Elwell, who was Robert Thompson’s secretary for several years, is led by an English oak tall double wardrobe, with an estimate of £5,000-£7,000; an unusually small English oak wardrobe, estimate of £3,000-£5,000, and an English oak three-foot bedstead, with an estimate of £400-£600.
Also for sale are two fenders, each estimated at £300-£500. In addition to her secretarial work, Kate helped paint any polychromed pieces that were commissioned, and she continued to work at the Mouseman workshop in Kilburn, North Yorkshire, until she married in 1938.
Being sold from a deceased estate are two lots which were given by American businessman Paul Herrick Kelly to his son Captain Philip Paul Kelly on the occasion of his marriage to Mary Haselwood Porter in 1932. The lots comprise an English oak partner’s desk, estimated at £5,000-£7,000; and an English oak monk’s chair, made circa 1929 and bearing the Ampleforth Abbey coat-of-arms on gridiron panels, with an estimate of £2,000-£3,000. Captain Philip Kelly, who attended Ampleforth College between 1919 and 1923, died in Myanmar during the Second World War having been mentioned in dispatches.
From a further private collection is an elaborately carved English oak blanket chest, made in 1928 for John and Kathleen Brunton to celebrate their marriage, which took place in Halifax. It has an estimate of £4,000-£6,000. The chest is decorated with two Medieval-style carved heads in profile, and the initials ‘JKB’ along with the date ‘1928’. The chest is based on a 16th-century example held in the collection of the V&A, and which was illustrated in Robert Thompson’s copy of Early English Furniture and Woodwork, a 1922 publication by ngs, and the book is still in the possession of the Thomson family at Kilburn.
A set of unique child’s nursery furniture is also on offer, which was commissioned by the Thompson-Schwab family of Kingfield House, Penton, Carlisle before later being purchased by the current vendor. The unusual set comprises an English oak 3’2” single bedstead, with the headboard carved with a scene from Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit depicting Mrs Rabbit with three of the Flopsy Bunnies, estimated at £500-£800, and a pair of English oak adjustable chairs, the backs carved with a bear and an elephant, carrying an estimate of £3,000-£5,000. The eminently practical chairs have a winding mechanism to the base allowing the height of the seat to be adjusted to match a child’s growth.
From the collection of a North Yorkshire gentleman are two English oak monk’s chairs, made for the Horlicks family of Berkshire. The Horlicks’ outfitted both their boardroom and their private house with Mouseman furniture, and the present lots were purchased directly from the family some years ago. Each chair is carved with monks’ heads and Yorkshire roses, with a carved ‘H’ to the back panel, each having a £2,000-£3,000 estimate. From the same collection is an English oak table, with carved octagonal legs on a cross base and an estimate of £2,000-£3,000.
Hailing from the South of England is a private family collection comprising an English oak 5’3” panelled sideboard, estimated at £5,000-£8,000; an English oak 6’ refectory dining table, estimated at £2,000-3,000; an English burr oak floor standing corner cupboard with a £3,000-£4,000 estimated; a set of six English oak dining chairs, estimated at £2,000-£3,000; and an English oak side table with an estimate of £1,000-£1,500).
Finally, from a further vendor, is an English oak manel clock, offered with an estimate of £2,000-3,000.
The sale will also offer a further 80 lots of Mouseman furniture and furnishings dating from the 1940s onwards.
- A Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson English Oak Monk’s Chair, with Coat of Arms for Ampleforth Abbey – Estimate: £2,000-3,000
- A Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson English Oak Blanket Chest, 1928 – Estimate: £4,000-6,000
- Two Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson English Oak Panel Back High/Adjustable Childrens Chairs – Estimate: £3,000-5,000