A bed said to have been designed by and for Ernest Gimson – one of the leading practitioners of the Cotswolds-based Arts and Crafts revival – will be sold at auction in Cirencester next month as part of a larger collection of Arts and Crafts antiques.
The single bed, made in walnut , was acquired by the vendor from the family of Norman Jewson – an apprentice to Gimson – and is considered to be a fascinating piece of Cotswolds Arts and Crafts history.
Handmade in around 1914, the chip-carved bed frame bears all the hallmarks of Gimson’s designs, and members of the Jewson family insisted that the bed had been designed by Gimson and made at his Daneway workshop for his own use.
It later became the property of Norman Jewson – a member of the famous timber merchant family – who died in the bed in 1975.
Antiques auctioneer Philip Allwood, of Moore Allen & Innocent, which is selling the bed, said: “It has excellent provenance, and while a wooden bed frame of that period might be worth £30 to £50, and an Arts and Crafts bed might achieve £500 to £800 at auction, a bed designed by Gimson himself – and one owned by the craftsman and his apprentice – could fetch anything between £1,000 to £1,500.”
Gimson was introduced to the Arts and Crafts concept by the leader of the Victorian revival, William Morris, in 1884. At the recommendation of Morris, Gimson moved to the architectural practice of John Dando Sedding in London, where he met Ernest Barnsley – later to become another key figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.
In 1893 Gimson, with Ernest and Sidney Barnsley, moved to Sapperton, to be close to the nature that inspired their designs. In 1900 Gimson set up a small furniture workshop in Cirencester, moving to larger premises at Daneway, where he lived and worked until his death in 1919.
Also offered for sale are are a circa 1930 washstand, double wardrobe and chest, all by Frank Gardiner – an apprentice to Gimson at Daneway – after his master’s designs.
All of the pieces have been made in local oak and feature chamfered decoration. The washstand is expected to achieve £700 to £1,000, the chest £800 to £1,200 and the wardrobe £1,000 to £1,500.
Also of interest to Gimson enthusiasts is a pass type ladder back chair in ash, with rush seat, designed in the manner of Gimson and said to have been made by the craftsman himself – a rare piece, as Gimson was said to have been a far better designer than he was a craftsman.
Certainly it was given to Norman Jewson after Gimson’s death. A bid of £400 to £600 should secure the lot.
While Arts and Crafts revival furniture makers were chiselling away in the Cotswolds, Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson of Kilburn was designing and making furniture in the Arts and Crafts style from his workshop on the North Yorkshire Moors.
The iconic mouse motif first appeared in the year of Gimson’s death – 1919 – and continues to be carved onto every piece of furniture and ornament crafted at the workshop ever since. And although the founder died in 1955, the tradition has been carried on by his descendants.
A number of Mouseman pieces will be sold at the auction, including two nests of three occasional tables (estimate £600 to £900 per nest), and an octagonal occasional table (estimate £500 to £800).
The sale also features a number of Mouseman ornaments, including a kidney shaped drinks tray (£150 to £200), a rectangular lidded box (£150 to £200), a set of six napkin rings (£100 to £150), a cheeseboard (£50 to £80), a circular bowl and lighter holder (£50 to £80), a fruit bowl (£100 to £150), and an ashtray (£50 to £80) – all featuring that trademark scurrying mouse.
Also included is a 28cm-high carved wooden figure of a seated cat with a mouse between its paws in the Mouseman manner, from the same collection.
There is no record of the company ever having made cat figurines – or wanting to depict the demise of their trademark mouse – so the beautifully carved piece carries an estimate of £100 to £150, although it will fetch far more if bidders are convinced it is a rare Mouseman original.
Beautiful ornaments from the other side of the world also feature in the sale, while collectors and traders take advantage of the prices paid for highly-prized Chinese antiques as the nation’s upper and middle classes continue to prosper.
Among the best are a pair of late 19th century moon flasks decorated with figures on horseback coloured in Imperial yellow (estimate £800 to £1,200), a Kangxi blue and white vase from the 18th century, standing at 35cms (£800 to £1,200), a circa 1900 rosewood framed table screen depicting an old man riding a deer (£300 to £500) and a pair of amber vases with lion mask head handles, standing at 21.5cm tall (£300 to £500).
The 273-lot auction will be held at Moore Allen & Innocent’s Cirencester saleroom from 10.30am on Friday, March 2. For a full auction catalogue log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk