All Mouseman bowls and boards are hand carved from English oak, which is several hundred years old and has been also naturally seasoned for many years. The items are then fumed to produce the warm nut brown colour. The famous mouse symbol, is found on every item crafted by Robert Thompson's®. The story told by Robert Thompson himself is that one of his craftsmen remarked that they "We all as poor as church mice", Whereupon Robert carved a mouse on the church screen he was working on. That particular mouse has never been found but it has continued as a trade mark of quality and dedication to craftsman ever since.
Very rarely English Brown Oak is used. English Brown Oak is one of the rarest oaks of the world. Brown Oak is an English White Oak that turns a deep brown color from a fungal attack that brings about chemical change to the tree. This brown results from a fungus attack in the growing tree, causing the heartwood to turn a rich, deep brown, but does not degrade the wood in any way. It is apparently impossible to tell whether or not a given tree will contain any of this natural brown oak until it is felled.
Mousey Thompson Bowls and Boards
Bowls come in many different sizes and colours, some picture examples are shown :
The early design of fruit bowl (per 1950's) was a deep bowl (diam:9in depth:3in ) with the mouse on the outside. This was superceeded by a design which was larger in diameter, shallower, and has the mouse centrally inside the bowl.
Diameter is usually around 11 - 12 inches, and depth can vary between 2-3in depending on the original cut of oak. Most bowls are adzed on the outside giving an irregular honeycomb effect which can reflect the light in a most pleasing way.
The modern nutbowl still has the mouse on the exterior of the bowl, but again diameter and depth can vary around the standard. The shallower version can be described as a nutdish, whereas the deeper version is a nutbowl.
Boards also had design variations over the years, but mostly with the oval shaped cheeseboard:
The early design of cheeseboard (per 1950's) was an oval board with a high handle and the mouse carved onto the board. This required the use of 3in thick oak. Later designs kept the mouse on the board, but had the thickness of oak used was reduced which resulted in a lower handle height. Modern boards have the mouse on the handle and economies have further reduced the height of the handle.
The large breadboard has remained largely unchanged in design, with the only way of dating these being from the mouse characteristics and the patina.
The small breadboard can vary in depth depending on whether it is used a backing plate to a clock or barometer. Be careful of marriages , where a modern 'slim' breadboard has been cut out to accept an old poor quality barometer or clock. These are frequently described as '1950's Mouseman barometer' on ebay.