Robert (Mouseman) Thompson (7 May 1876 – 8 December 1955) was a British furniture maker whose designs were both functional and very collectable. His designs with their clean, simple lines, careful workmanship, classic construction and mouse carvings have attracted and continue to attract considerable interest from collectors not only in the UK but worldwide.
Pictured: A Robert Mouseman Thompson Refectory Table c1935. Sold for £2,250 at Bonhams, London, Nov 2013.
Robert Thompson lived in Kilburn, North Yorkshire, where he set up a business manufacturing oak furniture, which featured a carved mouse on almost every piece.
Pictured: A Mouseman Oak Cheesboard and Mouseman Breadboard, c1935. Estimate £300-£500.
It is claimed that the mouse motif came about accidentally in 1919 following a conversation about “being as poor as a church mouse”, which took place between Thompson and one of his colleagues during the carving of a cornice for a screen. This chance remark led to him carving a mouse and this remained part of his work from this point onwards. The mouse carvings can often be used to date pieces.
Pictured: A Robert Mouseman Thompson Pair of Monk’s Chairs, c1940. Sold for £7,500 at Bonhams, London, Nov 2012. Image Copyright Bonhams,
He was part of the 1920s revival of craftsmanship, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement led by William Morris, John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle. More specific to furniture making in this genre and era include Stanley Webb Davies of Windermere.
Pictured: Robert Mouseman Thompson oak ashtrays – of similar form but with slight differences, each dished rectangular and with two canted corners, carved in relief to the opposite end with the mouse trademark ashtrays. Sold for £168 at Bonhams, Knowle, June 2011. Image Copyright Bonhams,
The workshop, now being run by his descendants, includes a showroom and visitors’ centre, and is located beside the Parish Church, which contains “Mouseman” pews, fittings and other furniture. The company is now known as “Robert Thompson’s Craftsmen Ltd – The Mouseman of Kilburn.”
Robert Thompson Mouseman Price Guide
Early Mouseman pieces are highly desirable and unlike a great deal of Victorian and early 20th century furniture, pieces are bucking market trends and are increasing rather than decreasing. The factory still produces furniture so new pieces are available. Below are realised prices from auction rooms and online auctions. Click for Mouseman Price Guide for Smaller Items.