Paul Couts Ltd1959 ~ 1995

Paul Couts Ltd. History

Sauchiehall Street Glasgow 1959

569 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, 1959

Margaret Couts founded Paul Couts Ltd on the 29th of June 1959.

Their first premises were located at 569 Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow and specialised in antique interior furnishings and antique works of art.

Six years later, Margaret Couts retired and passed the business over to her son Barry Couts.


In 1965, Barry Couts established Paul Couts Ltd in Edinburgh where he acquired a six-floor medieval townhouse as their new business premises for the sum of 5000 pounds.

The premises were located at 101-107 West Bow at the corner of the Grassmarket and Victoria Street by the old well. He converted the basement level into a restoration workshop the ground, second and third floors into 2000 square meters of gallery space.

101-107 West Bow (Victoria Street) Edinburgh 1960's

101-107 West Bow (Victoria Street) Edinburgh 1965

In the early 1960s, the business was very successful and there was no shortage of supply of high-quality antiques and works of art. This was during a period in Scottish history where owners of historic castles and mansions continued to either demolish or unroofed their inherited stately homes to avoid paying rates.

The result was an almost seemingly endless number of “house sales” where the house contents would be sold off by auction. Many auction houses and antique dealers benefitted enormously from the amount of high-quality antique goods available on the market most with impeccable provenance.

The 1970s

During the 1970s, Paul Couts Ltd moved focused on Georgian and English period furniture from important Scottish houses and established a very good reputation with wealthy North American clients and developed a strong network with art connoisseurs and collectors alike.

Reverend Coles, Paul Couts Ltd, July 1972

Reverend Coles, Paul Couts Ltd, July 1972

Also, during the 1970s, Peter Brady and Stuart Willis - both experienced cabinet-makers - joined Paul Couts Ltd restoration team.

The restoration business under the direction of Barry Couts's and led by Julian LaBarre achieved a good reputation amongst the antique trade. It had also gained the attention of the late David Learmont (1935-2009), Curator of the National Trust for Scotland, and he was instrumental in Paul Couts Ltd being commissioned to carry out long-term restoration projects which would see them involved in the restoration of the contents of Culzean Castle, Fyvie Castle, Charlotte Square and other National Trust for Scotland properties.

Paul Couts Ltd was commission by the Duke of Argyll after the fire in 1975 at Inverary Castle to restore some of the more important fire-damaged pieces including Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll's writing table. Other commission followed including furniture restoration projects for Holyrood House in Edinburgh.

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s Paul Couts Ltd was a well-known and regular exhibitor at the Northern Antique Fair in Harrogate and at the International Art & Antiques Fair at Olympia in London.

In 1986 Barry Couts was appointed to be the representative of the British Antique dealers association for Scotland and the North of England and later was appointed to the committee of the same association.

After a successful period Paul Couts Ltd was invited to exhibit at the prestigious Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in London and Barry Couts was appointed to the vetting committee of the fair.

London and Musselburgh

In 1987 a new showroom was opened at 80 Fulham Road, South Kensington, London.

Fulham Road, South Kensington, London (SW3, 1987)

Fulham Road, South Kensington, London, 1987

1989 saw the closure of the showroom in Victoria Street in Edinburgh and the opening of a new furniture restoration premises at 8 - 10 High Street Musselburgh on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Paul Couts Ltd would continue to exhibit at the Grosvenor antique fair till 1991. His son, Nicholas Couts left the family business after five years and joined Phillips Auctioneers in Edinburgh.

In 1992 coinciding with a general downturn in the art business and now in poor health Barry Couts scaled down the business and closed the London showroom. In 1995 Barry Couts died and Paul Couts Ltd was dissolved ending 36 years of a premier antique business in Scotland.

For those who visited the Grassmarket in the Scottish Capital between 1965 and 1989 they might remember an interesting shop with beautiful antiques and curiosities. Paul Couts Ltd was the first and the only dealer from Scotland invited to the Grosvenor Antiques Fair until its close in 2009 after 75 years.

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