The Mouseman

Thompsons of Kilburn Oak Furniture

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Over the years, some family heirlooms have come under my eye.  Some parts of the collection were hotly debated, such as carpentry tools which I fought over with my brother.  Eventually it was all divided peacefully.

The Mouseman - Carving and Carpentry

Some of these tools were obviously old - they had my great grandfathers name stamped into the handles of a lot of chisels and screwdrivers. 

Recently, my Mum, who just passed away, told me of Andrew Lisle, who was an organ builder, traveling all around the country and eventually the globe, to build and refurbish incredibly ornate organs in churches and cathedrals.

Andrew Lisle was also my great grandad, my Dads grandad on his mothers side.

He worked for the company of Thompsons of Kilburn, which produced(and still produce) oak furniture of all kinds, and were always identified by a small carved mouse, hence The Mouseman. 

Around the end of the 19th century, Andrew Lisle was traveling by ship to his next job.

I don't know if it was a case of bad weather, or leaning over the rail in a bout of seasickness, but he was lost overboard, and presumed drowned. 

His personal effects continued on the journey and were delivered to York, his home base. 

Imagine the widow receiving the telegram (which was how the notifications would have been made);

Mockup of telegram

When my Dad was born in 1918, the family stories must have been passed along to him, as well as the tools. 

The tool chest that they were stored in, a five board pine box dovetailed together has been refurbished and completely devalued by sanding, but it's still in my possession, along with many of the chisels, braces and bits, saws and other accoutrements of the trade.

I also have a three quarter sized violin, made by my grandad on the other side of the family.

This is a prized possession, cherished for the patina as well as the fact that it's a family heirloom.

Apparently, it was played at weddings and other gatherings on a regular basis until his untimely death at the age of 40 from bladder cancer, most likely a result of his job as a glass blower.

Other items that I've collected are some interesting carved decorative things.  One of them is a bookend, carved in the shape of an owl, with, you guessed it, a mouse clasped in one talon. 

The mouse is in the trademarked form, with no front feet, and with whiskers.

The owl, along with two other pieces, a candlestick and an ash tray, complete with a hedgehog, were carved by my Dad, also Andrew. This must have been around 1930 to 1940, when my Dad apprenticed to Thompsons of Kilburn.

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