A new auction record for a Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson carving was set at Tennants Auctioneers, when a rare anthropomorphic ‘Mouseman of Kilburn’ was sold for £13,000 plus buyer’s premium in the 20th Century Design Sale on 6th March. The mouse craftsman was depicted wearing cap and apron and holding tools and a lattice panel and stood at just at 27cm high.
The carving was part of a Private Collection of Mouseman carvings and furnishings, which saw astonishing prices; the thirty-lot collection sold for a total hammer price of £74,680. The collection had been put together by a Lady Collector from the North of England. She began collecting in the 1970s and had a passion for the English Oak furniture of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson and his craftsmen, frequently visiting the Kilburn workshop over the decades.
Further exceptional pieces from the collection included a carving of ‘Mr Toad’ of Wind in the Willows fame that sold for £10,000, an Owl made in 1967 that sold for £7,500, and a 1930s Power Bowl and Cover that sold for £5,200. Also of note were a pair of ‘Triple Mouse’ book ends that sold for £5,500, and a Money Box in the form of a wedge of cheese that sold for £3,000.
Strong prices and confident bidding were seen throughout the 20th Century Design Sale, with a further Mouseman carving of an Owl from a private vendor selling for £8,500. Amongst top lots of ceramics in the sale were two examples by Martin Brothers; a Stoneware Vase decorated with incised bulrushes, insects and butterflies on a buff ground sold for £550, and a Stoneware Gourd Vase by Robert Wallace Martin sold for £650. Studio pottery was led by a large Coil-Built Raku Vase by Huddersfield potter David Roberts, which sold for £850, and a St. Agnes Clay Lugged Vessel by Jason Wason, which sold for £300.
Modern Design was well represented in the sale, with good examples of iconic designs; highlights included a Swan Chair, designed by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen that sold for £850 and a 1980s Italian Nastro Table Lamp designed by Alberto Fraser for Stilnovo that sold for £300.
The sale achieved a total hammer price of £198,870 for 268 lots, with an impressive 94% sold rate.