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The first country-house contents sale of the year, a sure sign that summer is on its way, takes place in Edinburgh this month
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The owner of a handsome 19th century historic pile, South Hall in County Durham, plans to move abroad and is clearing out his house contents, in what he describes as ‘the ultimate de-clutter’.

The collection, amassed over 25 years, runs to a 600-lot catalogue of furniture, porcelain, paintings and quirky accessories, from tortoiseshell candlesticks to stuffed squirrels.

Estimates start at £100 and most lots are likely to fetch less than £500. Best of all, every lot is to be sold without reserve.

Pretty, coloured glassware is a prominent feature of the sale, and includes a pair of 18th century green glass goblets (lot 69, est. £150-£250) and several mixed lots of cranberry glass (for instance, lot 78, est. £100-£150).

A small collection of beautifully made antique boxes features a Victorian rosewood writing slope (lot 412, est. £120-£180), a burr walnut stationery box (lot 423, est. £120-£180) and a gaily patterned tartanware document box (lot 437, est. £150-£250).

Mouseman collectables

But the star of the sale is the ‘Mouseman’ furniture: 22 pieces ranging from a double bed to a pair of bookends, crafted by Robert Thompson (1876-1955), the Yorkshire craftsmen who came to be known as the Mouseman of Kilburn.

Est. £200-£300: A Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson oak cheeseboard (lot 530) <br />
Est. £200-£300: A Robert 'Mouseman' Thompson oak cheeseboard (lot 530)
Thompson made simple, practical furniture in solid English oak, using traditional tools and techniques, and, from the 1920s, members of his workshop marked each piece with a signature: a tiny carved mouse.

The charm of both his chosen motif and his Arts and Crafts-inspired designs have made the Mouseman brand highly collectable, and the lots that bear his name (all made after his death, by his firm, which continues to this day) are likely to provoke a feeding frenzy among fans.

The most covetable pieces include a low oak occasional table, c1970 (lot 537, est. £300-£450) and lot 530, an oval oak cheeseboard, c1960, estimated at £200 to £300.

Contents of South Hall, 7 May, Lyon & Turnbull, 33 Broughton Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3RR, 0131 557 8844. View the catalogue and bid online at

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