Alan Coles is our plumber in Ross, Tasmania. He is so English and proper, old-school reliable and (I always forget not to swear in front of him) as he doesn’t abide a sailor’s tale or the floral vernacular! He does have a fascination of all things that fly and unusual clocks and dials. We love the guy – without any warning we received a watch and these instructions:  “I want a small mouse carved in silver and I want him running up around the watch case, the movement isn’t working so can you also have a look at it”.

The movement has a seconds sweep and a push down button just behind the front case lug for stopping the seconds count. We have to avoid messing with this action and positioned the mouse in front of the lug. Juan-Luis roughly made a silver lump, managed to solder it onto the case with minimum heat and then carved away the silver creating the running mouse form. We obviously removed the movement and glass prior to the mouse make. We sent the movement to the Chinese watchmaker – Paul who does complicated fusee repairs for us. I collected the watch today and it will be snail-mailed to Tasmania tomorrow.

When discussing the task with Alan over the phone I did hint at the carved mouse of the English furniture maker and yes it was this man he had in mind when commissioning his mouse, only he couldn’t remember his name.

Robert Thompson – the mouse man from Kilburn in York, UK has always been a favourite maker of mine, for his stoic arts & crafts style. His business is still carried on today, but I always clip his earlier auction shot pieces for my ‘antiques’ folder.

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