Squirrel Bookends by Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson Sold for £1,600

21st May 2012

A pair of carved oak squirrel bookends by Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson sold for £1,600 in the May sale at the Lincoln auction rooms.

The bookends, which featured Thompson's famous mouse trademark, were one of the highlights of a sale of 'high quality items from East Midlands vendors' at auctioneers Golding Young & Mawer on Wednesday (May 16).

Auctioneer John Leatt said: "The bookends dated from the earliest period of the Mouseman's work and were brought in to the auction room during one of our regular valuation days. "There was a great deal of interest in the bookends before the sale. We estimated they would sell for between £400 and £600 but fierce bidding between buyers in the room and on the Internet pushed the price upwards. "They were finally bought by a collector bidding over the Internet." Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson (1876-1955) developed an interest in traditional furniture making techniques when he worked as an apprentice in his father's joinery business in Kilburn, North Yorkshire.

By 1895, he had taken over the family firm and was producing items of furniture inspired by the medieval carvings in village churches and nearby York and Ripon Cathedrals. His carved mouse trademark signature began when one of his craftsmen commented that they were 'as poor as church mice'. He immediately carved a mouse on the church screen he was working on. Thompson dedicated his career to producing simple, well-made pieces in English oak using old-fashioned

tools such as the Adze, which is similar to an axe but with the blade set at a right angle to the shaft. This meant that much of his pieces have a rippled, uneven surface. In the same sale, a Crawford's biscuit tin shaped like an aeroplane sold to a collector over the phone for £1,100, well above its £200 to £300 estimate. The highly collectable, novelty tin had pivotal wings, was gold in colour and marked with 'Crawford's Air Service. A-One. The Pride of London.' In the furniture section, a pair of George IV bergere armchairs in the manner of Gillows of Lancaster sold for £5,800, after the auctioneer asked for opening bids of £2,000. A part-18th century walnut chest on a stand sold for £550 and two Victorian walnut pedestal desks made over £600.

A pair of good quality, unusually large late-19th century bronze two-handled urns cast with cherubs sold for £675. A collection of fishing tackle, including rods and reels, sold for in excess of £300. Among the lots, a Charles Farlow and Co Patent Lever brass fishing reel from the turn of the last century which made £90.

The next sale at the Lincoln auction rooms is the contents of The Manor House, Waddington, which was the home of antique dealer Richard 'Dick' Ratcliffe, on Saturday, May 26th at 10am. The next Fine Art and Collective sale will be held at the Grantham auction rooms on Wednesday and Thursday, May 30 and 31 at 10am.

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