Who made Mouseman furniture?Mouseman furniture means 20th century British oak with a historic twist.
Known for its distinctive trademark, a small carved mouse, the Yorkshire workshop produced a range of pieces from cheeseboards to wardrobes in a style that still delights buyers and decorators.
Who is the man behind the mouse?
Mouseman furniture was originally the work of one man, Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson (1876-1955), a North Yorkshire craftsman. He was inspired by traditional forms of British furniture and historic techniques for building it – much as the Arts and Crafts movement had been in the 1890s.
Thompson got his first major commission in 1919. During this project, making pieces for Ampleforth College, his signature mouse made its debut.
“I and another carver were carving a huge cornice for a screen and he happened to say something about being as poor as a church mouse. I said I will carve a mouse here and did so, and then it struck me, what a lovely trademark,” Thompson said later.
When was Mouseman furniture made?
Mouseman furniture is still being made today. Robert Thompson’s Craftsmen Ltd produces oak furniture and smaller designs in the spirit of its namesake from its workshop in Kilburn.
However, real enthusiasts of the brand will seek out pieces dating from the Robert Thompson era, from the 1920s-1955. Though he did not make every piece personally, he oversaw the production of everything that came out of his workshop.
These days, Mouseman items of the 1950s and ’60s are becoming more popular as they become rarer and show attractive signs of age in their colour.
Differences in the mouse can sometimes give a clue to the date. The earliest mice had front paws that tended to break off. These were replaced in the 1930s by small paw-free mice.
Why is Mouseman furniture still famous today?
Traditional without being ancient and practical without being mass produced, Mouseman furniture is sturdy, historical and charming. He is championed by Yorkshire buyers and auctioneers, but there are also fans of his work to be found in North America and the Far East.
In 2021, Tennants of North Yorkshire sold a collection of Mouseman furniture and furnishing from the hotel of Marco Pierre White, the Rudloe Arms in Wiltshire.
White said at the time: “Not only is Mouseman incredibly practical and durable – perfect for a busy hotel – but it is beautiful and so tactile, especially the adzed surfaces. English oak is a fantastic material.”
Does all Mouseman furniture have a mouse?
A mouse definitely adds to the value of a piece, but not all Mouseman works come with the signature.
There are also some studios and makers of comparable quality who took inspiration from Mouseman. These include Tom ‘Gnomeman’ Whittaker of Littlebeck whose work is signed with – you guessed it – a small carved gnome.