Mouseman: One of master craftsman Robert Thompson's earliest pieces from the 1930s to be auctioned in Yorkshire

One of master furniture-maker Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson’s earliest pieces is expected to fetch up to £6,000 at auction in Yorkshire next week.

The oak dressing chest with mirror and the signature carved mouse was produced between 1930-40 at the craftsman’s Kilburn workshop, which is still trading today.

It is one of several lots at Elstob Auctioneers’ fine art and antiques sale on November 8.

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A set of eight Mouseman oak dining chairs, all featuring the carved mouse, that were purchased new in 1987 could fetch up to £3,000.

The 1930s Mouseman chest could sell for £6,000The 1930s Mouseman chest could sell for £6,000
The 1930s Mouseman chest could sell for £6,000

Thompson’s Mouseman trademark began in the 1920s, when he was leading a revival of craftsmanship inspired by the likes of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement.

Much of his work ended up in churches, inns and schools across Yorkshire, and the North York Moors and Howardian Hills are often referred to as ‘Critter Country’. Many former Thompson apprentices adopted their own animal trademarks, such as Lizardman, Beaverman, Rabbitman, Squirrelman and Foxman.

Mouseman furniture remains incredibly popular in Yorkshire, with many of the main private collectors living locally. Large contents sales, such as that of Leeds Girls’ High School when it closed in 2008, attract major interest. Thompson’s designs were practical and the materials durable and robust.

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‘Purist’ collectors favour items dating from before Thompson’s death in 1955, after which the business was taken over by his family. However, the market has recently been flooded with 1960s and 70s pieces that were bought by married couples whose children are now selling their estates.

Earlier this year Thompson’s grandson even put his home in Kilburn, filled with Mouseman furnishings, up for sale.

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