On Tuesday 9 October, Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers of Stansted Mountfitchet auctioned one of the largest collections of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson (1876-1955) furniture ever to come to market…
The cache of approximately 45 lots of Arts and Crafts oak furniture comprised 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 revolutionary brick building was built by company co-founder James Horlick in 1908 to produce the famous malted milk drink for the UK market.
Included for sale were partner’s desks, sideboards, coat stands and ’monk’s’ chairs, each 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.
A strong provenance such as this is always expected to command interest, however expectations were completely exceeded with the commission achieving just shy of £300,000 - three times the high estimate.
An oak dresser topped the charts, selling for an astounding £43,050 - the second highest price ever achieved for a piece of Mouseman (Sotheby’s currently hold the record).
Other auction highlights included an oak partners' desk selling for £15,990 and a pair of monk’s armchairs fetching £5,658.
*all prices quoted including premium
As well as interest from descendants of the Horlick’s family, successful bidders included a top international manufacturer of construction equipment and a celebrity chef with a taste for Mouseman!