Oral History Interviews – Bill Beaton

We completed another of our oral history interviews on Monday 11th August – up at Kinross in Scotland, with William (Bill) Beaton.  Bill is in his 80s and retired from antique dealing about 25 years ago!  He started his antique dealing activities with his father, Walter Beaton, in about 1946 just after WWII, at his father’s shop at 37 Albert Square, Dundee.  Walter had opened his shop in c.1930, following 10 years working for an antique dealer in Dundee named Norries, and Bill continued the business in Dundee until his father retired in 1963, when Bill took over and subsequently moved the shop to Perth in 1970. Both Walter and Bill were members of BADA – Bill acted as Vice President at one stage.

Bill Beaton (right) with Henry Fotheringham, c.1965. Copyright Perthshire Advertiser.

Bill Beaton (right) with Henry Fothringham, c.1965. Copyright Perthshire Advertiser. Courtesy of Bill Beaton.

Here is Bill (on the right), in c.1965, with his friend and colleague Henry Fothringham (a member of the Angus family, who also traded as an antique dealer, under the trading name of Grantully Castle Antiques), at the ‘Scottish Antiques Fair’.  Incidentally Bill was one of the founders of the Scottish Antiques fair, which was held in Edinburgh between 1964 and the mid 1970s. Here’s Bill’s stand at the fair, in c.1965.

Courtesy of Bill Beaton.

Courtesy of Bill Beaton.

Bill and I talked for a few hours and he recalled his first country house auction sale, (Cusworth Hall, near Doncaster, in the 1950s – where his father had put him under the watchful guidance of the well-known dealer Walter Waddingham of Harrogate) and memories of fellow dealers, and objects that passed through his hands – including a rare painting by the 17th century artist Melchoir de Hondecoeter (bought from a furniture dealer in Harrogate in the 1960s) and a ‘Chippendale’ double partners desk from a well-known (Royal) Scottish country house!

Amongst the many interesting things that Bill’s father sold was an 18th century  French clock by Jacques Droiz Leschot, which was also noticed by the writer of the Antique Yearbook for 1950 – who writes;

‘We found in the main Albert Square [in Dundee], number 37, the shop of Mr. W.S. Beaton [Bill’s father], where the 18th century mahogany furniture, the fine silver, the glass and Chinese porcelain were polished and in splendid condition, where a collection of snuff boxes was up to Bond Street standard, and where a gold and enamelled singing-bird clock by Jacques Droiz Leschot was one of the most precious works of art we had seen for many a month. You must visit Dundee and Beaton.’ (Antiques Yearbook, 1950, p.557).

Bill still remembered the clock after all those years, and actually found a B&W photograph of it!

Photograph courtesy of Bill Beaton.

Photograph courtesy of Bill Beaton.

You will be able to listen to the interview with Bill in a few weeks, once we’ve edited it and uploaded it to the project website.


2 Comments to “Oral History Interviews – Bill Beaton”

  1. I have a box that has a card inside it that is hand written. It states “bought at fair from Walter Beaton Antiques, Dundee 1948”
    I would like to know if Mr. Beaton had a booth at any antique fair in the United States in 1948 or if it was a fair in Scotland or another place in the UK.
    I inherited this tortoiseshell box with metal trim. The other side of the card describes it as “tortoiseshell casket, circa 1680”
    Anything that your archive contains about the fair location will be appreciated.
    I enjoyed you 2014 article about Bill Beaton, Walter’s son. Thank you. I am not a dealer and do not have a website.

    • Hello Bridgette,
      many thanks for the message – it’s great to know that the blog generates interest – thank you. I’d guess that the ‘fair’ mentioned in your card is one of the regional antiques fairs held in the UK. I checked the catalogue for the ‘Antique Dealers’ Fair’ 1948 (later called the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair) but Walter Beaton did not show at that fair. So I guess it’s one of the smaller regional antique fairs. If I discover anything more about Beaton and antique fairs in 1948 I’ll certainly let you know.
      Very best wishes

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