Aberdeen business marks 150th anniversary

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An Aberdeen business will reach an historic milestone this week when it celebrates 150 years of trading.

Founded in 1867, John Milne Auctioneers is thought to be one of the oldest privately owned family businesses in Aberdeen.  On Wednesday, 13 December, 150 years to the day since the business was established, it will hold an antique and collectables sale featuring over 330 items, some of which date back to the mid-18th century.

The business was established by John Milne when he was appointed a messenger-at-arms and sheriff officer. Changes to the legal system and the development of the postal service altered the duties of sheriff officers.  This led to Mr Milne broadening his business to cover property letting and factoring, and then in the early 1890s auctioneering.  He established his first saleroom on Langstane Place around 1893.

Over the past 150 years, John Milne Auctioneers has witnessed major societal changes and its detailed archive of sale records illustrates some of these changes.  From the arrival of electricity and the motor car to Aberdeen and their impacts on plumbing and coachbuilding firms, to the changing tastes in home furnishing, all are documented in volumes of leather bound books.

Today, John Milne Auctioneers, which has traded from its North Silver Street location since the late 1890s, is Aberdeen’s only auction house.  In the 1940s the city was home to over 20 such businesses.

The saleroom is run by senior partner Graham Lumsden – who has been with the firm for over 35 years – and three of the founder’s four great-grandchildren, Sandy, Frances and John Milne.  Their brother Robbie ran the business until his retirement in 2008.

Speaking on behalf of the partners, Sandy Milne said: “Reaching our 150th anniversary is a very proud moment for all of the staff at John Milne Auctioneers.  The business has evolved over the years and witnessed huge technological advances and societal changes, which are documented in our archive alongside how commerce in Aberdeen adapted.

“To mark our anniversary we have put together an extensive sale of antiques and collectables.  It should appeal to a wide range of people and some lots are already attracting a lot of interest.  Alongside some exquisite jewellery, there is a fine Moorcroft vase, a number of pieces of Aberdeen silver which is always sought after, a few quirky items and a great selection of furniture.  We expect there to be keen bidding on the Scotland junior football caps which are all in a lovely condition.”


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