The piece, much admired for its burr oak panels, deep brown patination and attractive size at 2ft 9in (83cm) wide, is thought to be a unique design created for a client by Robert Thompson himself.
A copy of the order made in 1933 to APW Greenhalgh Esq, a mill owner from Delph near Oldham, can be found in the archives at Kilburn, a photograph of which was included in the lot.
The bureau, which passed to Greenhalgh’s son, was later bought back by the Robert Thompson workshop and subsequently purchased by the current owner.
Mouseman in its prime
Prime-period Mouseman furniture continues to enjoy a purple patch. Landmark bids in recent years have included the £35,000 bid for a dresser dated 1930 as part of the Horlicks collection at Sworders in October 2018 and a £31,000 refectory table from a dining suite made for Brigadier Hargreaves of Castlegarth, Wetherby, near Leeds, c.1927, at Wilkinson’s in Doncaster the following month.
Earlier this year Tennants set a series of new benchmarks for Mouseman figural carvings, with the anthropomorphic ‘Mouseman of Kilburn’ selling at £13,000.
The £36,000 for this desk represents the second-highest-ever for Mouseman, next to the $70,000 (£40,460) bid at Sotheby’s New York in 2003 for a documentary two-section oak cupboard of 1923.