The solid oak furniture of Arts & Crafts cabinetmaker Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson proves in demand once again in Tennants Auctioneers’ Modern Living: Art & Design Sale on 12th October, in which rare and early pieces took top prices.
The highlight of the sale was a family collection of furniture commissioned by a Mr J R Hey of Leeds in 1928. The collection included a carved oak sideboard, complete with the owner’s initials, the date of the commission and two mice (sold for £8,000 plus buyer’s premium), a carved oak buffet (sold for £5,500), a next of tables (sold for £2,000) and rare ‘pre-mouse’ dish-top stool (sold for £2,000). Other highlights by the Yorkshire craftsman included a 1939 Bishop’s Chair made for York College (sold for £3,800), a burr oak kidney-shaped table (sold for £4,400) and a rare ‘pre-mouse’ chair (sold for £2,400).
One of the stand-out lots of the sale was a walnut and ebony bookcase by Cotswold School furniture maker Gordon Russell, which sold for £5,800. Russell bridged the gap between the Arts and Crafts movement and Modernism, and was well known for creating simple, elegant furniture for modern life. Further Arts and Crafts items of note included an Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co Tudric pewter, copper and enamel clock (sold for £2,600), and further Liberty & Co Tudric pewter and enamel mantel clock (sold for £1,600).
Two collections in the sale proved a draw for buyers too, the first being the Taggart Tile Collection (Part I), which saw many of the lots selling for well above estimate. Highlights included a set of twenty-one tiles depicting animals designed by Mary (Polly) R Brace of Dunsmore Tiles and made by Minton, which sold for £950 against an estimate of £400-600, and a set of twelve Old English Picture Tiles depicting the months of the year designed by Helen J A Miles for Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, which sold for £900. Part II of the collection will be included in the next Modern Living Sale in February.
The second collection comprised handblocked wallpapers from the Original Scenic Mural Collection, which were purchased following the closing of the Arthur Sanderson and Sons Ltd factory in Perivale, London in 1972. Highlights of the collection included the 12-panel ‘Kew Gardens’ that sold for £1,300, and ‘Oriental Garden’ that sold for £650.