The Mouse That Roared at Horlicks

12/06/2018     20th Century Art & Design

Sworders are delighted to announce a remarkable consignment for sale this autumn - the Horlick collection of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson furniture. 

This cache of approximately 40 lots of Arts and Crafts oak furniture comprises one of the Mouseman’s largest commissions from the prime period of his career. All pieces were handmade by the Kilburn workshop in the 1930s for offices at the landmark Horlick’s factory in Slough. The landmark brick building was built by company co-founder James Horlick in 1908 to produce the famous malted milk drink for the UK market. The 6.5 acre site, purchased from Eton College three years earlier, was chosen for its stable water table and close proximity to farms producing milk and grain. Horlicks and Horlicks tablets were supplied to troops during the First World War and nourished a generation of polar explorers, pioneer aviators, travellers and mountaineers.

 

The Horlicks Collection of Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson Furniture

 

The Mouseman commission followed the building of an office wing at the Berkshire factory in the late 1920s. Further offices and a laboratory were added at the end of the 1930s. The new wood panelled spaces were furnished with Mouseman partner’s desks, sideboards, coat stands and ’monk’s’ chairs, each carved with the Horlick family coat of arms and the Latin inscription Labore Et Sciential (by work and by knowledge). The commission, documented in ledgers at the Kilburn workshops, even extended to a series of simple paper ‘in’ trays. All these beautifully made and well-patinated pieces will be included in a special October 9 sale that carries a global estimate of around £100,000.

Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson paper trays at the Horlicks factory in Slough


After a checkered history of family and corporate ownership, the Horlicks factory in Slough, owned since 1969 by Beecham (later GSK), finally closed in 2017 with the site now slated for redevelopment. Although demand for the brand has fallen in the UK, Horlicks remains popular overseas, particularly in India where the drink has been made since the 1950s.

The Horlicks collection of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson furniture will sold on Tuesday 9 October with a sale of 20th Century Decorative Art & Design conducted the following day.

Further entries of Mouseman furniture and other Arts and Crafts are invited by Friday 24 August.

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https://www.sworder.co.uk/departments/20th-century-decorative-art-design

 

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