Robin Noel Holman Butler (M.57-62)
Robin Noel Holman Butler was born on 26 April 1943 to Marjorie Blanche (nee Dunn) and (George) Noel Butler in Bristol. He moved to Honiton, in Devon, at the age of 5 with his parents and older brother, Roderick. Following school at Allhallows, Robin took a job teaching English at a prep school near Chichester. He then took a year out to go travelling with a friend through Europe and into Asia in a Land Rover, reaching India just as war broke out with Pakistan, curtailing the onward adventure as Brits were urged to leave India by air without delay (or PDQ, as Robin would say).
Robin joined the family business of G. Noel Butler at Marwood House in Honiton in 1963 at a time when the antiques business was flourishing. He was elected to the British Antique Dealers Association in 1970. His interest in wine accessories began in 1976 when he assembled a collection of pieces for an exhibition as part of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the BADA in 1978, held at his new premises, 8½ High Street, Honiton. Thus were sown the early seeds of what would become Butler’s Antiques, which came into being with wine accessories his full-time occupation from 2004.
Robin’s first book arose from his collaboration with TV personality Arthur Negus: The Arthur Negus Guide to English Furniture was published in 1978. In the early 1980’s Robin moved back to Bristol and opened an antiques shop in the city. He later moved across town to premises in Clifton. While in Bristol, he wrote The Book of Wine Antiques with Gillian Walkling. These books are the standard reference works on their subjects.
After a move to Suffolk and marriage to Carol in the early 2000’s, Robin researched and wrote his third book, The Albert Collection, about a magnificent private collection of English domestic silver. This was followed by Great British Wine Accessories 1550 – 1900 in 2009, an enlarged and updated version of his previous book on the subject.
Robin was an enthusiast and connoisseur, giving talks and lectures to interested groups in Britain and the USA, including the Silver Society, The Furniture History Society, The Wine Label Circle, The Smithsonian Institution, NADFAS and local collectors’ groups. He appeared on TV shows, including ‘Antiques Roadshow’, ‘Arthur Negus Enjoys’, and ‘Collectors Lot’, and he once wrote specialist questions for an episode of ‘Mastermind’.
At various times he was a BADA Council Member, a Furniture History Society Council Member and a Honiton Town Councillor. He was a Governor of Allhallows for a number of years.
As a young man, Robin was a keen sportsman. He was a key member of the Sidmouth and Honiton Hockey clubs, a fine tennis and squash player, and (mostly!) enjoyed his golf. He was a competent self-taught wood carver and turner, and a talented pianist. Rumour has it he could ride a penny farthing, and he loved his motors too, once owning a bright orange Morgan Plus Four. The same subtle appreciation of colour also shone through in his snappy dress sense, which only added to his bon vivant persona.
More recently he was fully devoted to caring for his wife, Carol, who survives him. Robin Butler died on 3 August, 2021, aged 78.