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1937 Mouseman Monk's Chair Leads 20th Century Design Sale

11th October 2023.

Monk’s chairs have become one of the most iconic pieces of furniture by Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson at auction, with prices to match, as demonstrated by a good example made in 1937 that was sold for £7,500 (plus buyer’s premium) in Tennants Auctioneers’ 20th Century Design Sale on 7th October. The well patinated chair was embellished with two monks’ heads, the crest and coat of arms of the McEvoy family, the date 1937 and the initials P.E. McE as well as the trademark mouse. The chair was sold with its original receipt, which showed the chair as costing £7.14.10. Amongst a very strong sale for Mouseman and Yorkshire Critters furniture and furnishings overall, which achieved a total hammer price for the section of £139,145, an English Oak Carved Fox by Stan ‘Woodpeckerman’ Dodds sold well at £3,200.

The sale offered a good, rounded cross-section of 20th Century Design, and was opened with a Private Collection from Manchester of ceramics by Pilkington Tile and Pottery Company, comprising 43 lots, which generated strong interest pre-sale. Amongst a good range of Royal Lancastrian wares and a host of rare tiles were a set of six Flora’s Train 6” Tiles designed for Pilkington by Walter Crane (sold for £2,800), and a Royal Lancastrian Relief-Moulded Lustre Tile decorated with a stag and designed by Albert Hall circa 1908 (sold for £1,700).

Arts and Crafts again performed strongly, with a Copper and Brass Electrolier made by W.A.S. Benson circa 1900. Stamped ‘Benson’ but lacking the original shades, it sold for £4,800 against an estimate of £300-500. Also selling well above estimate were a Pair of Liberty & Co. Terracotta Planters, which were stamped and had been found in the vendor’s garden when they purchased their house (sold for £2,200), and a pair of Cotswold School Brass and Polished Steel Wall Sconces made by Fred Dowdeswell (sold for £2,800). Dowdeswell, was a blacksmith near Arlington Mill, Bibury in the Cotswolds, and made the sconces to a design by Ernest Gimson.

The sale achieved a total hammer price of £211,855 for the 325 lots, and a 95% sold rate.


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