A Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson dresser with double mouse signature and the inscription H and 1930 – £35,000 at Sworders’ sale of the Horlicks collection.

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The cache of 47 lots of Yorkshire-made Arts & Crafts oak furniture, representing one of the Mouseman’s largest commissions from the prime period of his career, was being sold by British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

GSK is selling the Horlicks brand, famous for its malted milk drink.

The Mouseman commission for the Horlicks factory in Slough was provided in three batches in 1930, 1936 and 1938, and followed the building of a new office wing.

£35,000 dresser

Many lots far exceeded expectations. Leading the sale was a dresser carved with a double mouse signature, the letter H and the date 1930 (estimate £6000-8000).

It had the bonus of elaborate ironwork, probably supplied by the talented Kirkbymoorside blacksmith Will Dawson. The Robert Thompson ledger of 1930 records: Lieut. Col. AJ Horlick c/o Horlicks Ltd., Slough Buckinghamshire Dresser as sketch submitted 6’0 long x 7’ high app. £45.

The hammer price last week was a mighty £35,000 (plus 23% buyer’s premium).

It is thought to be the second-highest ever for Mouseman, second only to the $70,000 (£40,460) bid at Sotheby’s New York in 2003 for a two-section oak cupboard of 1923 from the collection of designer Wolfgang Joop.