Leith antiques shop voted best in UK

John Dixon celebrates his shop's award. Picture: Neil Hanna
John Dixon celebrates his shop's award. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A FAMILY-run antiques shop which has been operating in the Capital for more than 30 years has been named the best in the UK.

Georgian Antiques in Leith Links, run by brothers John and Padraic Dixon, was named Antique Shop of the Year at the 2013 Homes and Antiques awards, after their loyal ­customer base voted for them online in their droves.

The award was presented to them by star of the Antiques ­Roadshow, Judith Miller.

Even after decades in the business and after this accolade from the industry, John said he is still on a continuous learning curve.

The 56-year-old said: “My brother started out in the late 1970s, and I joined in 1981 to help him grow and expand the business. If I’m honest, it’s been a 30-year apprenticeship, because not a day goes by where you don’t see or learn something new – and there’s dealers out there in their 80s who would agree with me.”

According to John, a good antiques dealer needs “an eye for quality and a passion for buying and selling” but admits when it comes to customers, you never can tell what will appeal.

He said: “People are always looking for dining tables, desks – people love desks – and bookcases, ­especially Victorian and Edwardian ones. An easy way to tell the difference is that because homes were made quite smokey by the paraffin lamps people had to use in those days, bookcases would usually have glazed doors to protect the contents. But by Edwardian times they were mainly doorless as more ­better off people used electricity.

“However, these still come in many different designs and buying antiques is such a personal thing, it’s like jewellery or clothing. We have a massive showroom, so we can have a lot of people in at the same time and you can guarantee each and every one of them will be drawn to something different.

“A well-chosen piece can fit in with any kind of decor. I’ve seen antiques fit in beautifully with more modern, ­contemporary furniture.”

Famed for Nelson find

IT’S not the first time the shop has hit the headlines.

While clearing an Edinburgh townhouse in November 2004, John Dixon found letters to and from Viscount Horatio Nelson.

He said: “The owner commissioned an auction house to value the contents of the house. I liked the furniture so bought it, and as we were going through the cupboards I chanced upon three framed pictures. I picked them up and immediately thought they were fantastic. They ended up selling at auction for more than £50,000.”

The letters were originally owned by English politician and collector Sir William Augustus Fraser.