Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson, known for his iconic mouse signature and exquisite 20th century oak furniture, remains a celebrated figure whose legacy continues to captivate art and woodworking enthusiasts alike.
Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson at work in his workshop. (Credit: robertthompsons.co.uk)
Who Was Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson?
Born on 7th May 1876, Robert Thompson lived in Kilburn, North Yorkshire – the son of a carpenter and stonemason. Carrying forward the family business, he chose to experiment with producing furniture in the British vernacular tradition, having been inspired by medieval carvings at Ripon Cathedral.
Thus, he forsook the more contemporary tools and techniques of his time, favouring more traditional tools such as the adze and construction methods like the dowelled mortise and tenon joint.
An example of Mouseman’s signature trademark. (Credit: andersonandgarland.com)
In 1919, Mouseman’s first major commission came from Ampleforth College. While there, working on a large cornice for a screen, another carver he was working with intimated a comment about being as poor as a church mouse.
Inspired, Robert decided to carve a mouse into the piece and realised afterwards how great a trademark it made. He decided to incorporate it as a signature for his subsequent works, and by the 1930s it was a registered trademark.
Sold at Sotheby’s in New York in December 2003, this oak cupboard achieved a record hammer price of $70,000! (Credit: antiquestradegazette.com)
Robert Thompson died in 1955, but his company continues to this day as Robert Thompson’s Craftsmen Ltd, still espousing the same style and construction ethos, carrying forth the Mouseman legacy.
At the same time, original pieces only increase in demand and value – the record being for a two-section oak cupboard which sold at Sotheby’s in New York for just shy of £40,500, in December 2003.
Mouseman for Sale Next Month
To be featured in our November Fine Art Auction: This oak two-door wardrobe comprises double panelled doors, with half penny moulding to the top rail. Lot 1561 is estimated at £1,500-£3,000.
A wonderful selection of Mouseman oak furniture will be featured in our November Fine Art auction. Exemplifying the well-known build quality and aesthetic, this includes larger pieces as well as smaller decorative items.
A lovely piece also to be featured is this carved oval cheeseboard. Lot 1539, estimate £80-£160.
With an estimate of £500-£1,000, Lot 1562 is this late 20th century oak panelled drinks cupboard with raised upstand, circa 1986.
Its enduring popularity and ability to hold value, coupled with its undoubted practicality, make Mouseman oak furniture a consistently superlative choice.
Also to be featured in our November Fine Art auction is this 4ft open bookcase. Late 20th century with a panelled back, raised upstand and adjustable shelves, Lot 1563 carries an estimate of £500-£1,000.
This delightful late 20th century ornament, Lot 1540, will be featured with an estimate of £50-£100.
Do you have Mouseman oak furniture to sell?
Our team of experts can value your items and assist you in consigning your Mouseman items to auction. We hold free valuation days every Tuesday at our Silverdale saleroom. To attend, book an appointment using our online booking form here.
Alternatively, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01782 638100. Valuations can also be provided via WhatsApp – simply send some clear images of your items via the app to 07864 667940.