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Obituary: Robbie Milne, 77, auctioneer of John Milne, Aberdeen

Robbie Milne.
Robbie Milne.

Robert Milne, the fourth generation to work as an auctioneer in the family firm of John Milne Auctioneers Aberdeen has died aged 77.

He spent around 48 years working for the firm, which was founded by his great-grandfather, John Milne, in 1867.

Robert James Ferguson Milne, known as Robbie, was an antiques expert who travelled extensively for sales throughout the north-east.


The family home was in Oldmeldrum where Robbie and his wife, Terry Gearing, raised their children Claire and Jamie.

After attending Fyling Hall School, in Yorkshire, Robbie joined his father at the family business in 1960.

After initial training he broadened his experience with a spell at  Dowells (later Phillips) auctioneers in Edinburgh, where he enjoyed the freedom of being with like-minded young auctioneers, and the wit and experience of the older staff.


In 1969 he returned to Aberdeen to take a major role in working alongside his father, shortly becoming senior partner.

He had a quiet but effective auction style, making rapid progress through the lots.

If the noise level of the dealers and others continued after a polite call for silence, Robbie would simply stop until those in question suddenly became aware and stopped chatting to allow the sale to proceed.

Robbie Milne in his younger days.

The auction business required considerable travel to properties all over Aberdeen and the north-east, which gave Robbie a thorough knowledge of the network of roads and a fondness for the towns and villages of Aberdeenshire.

When he returned to Aberdeen in the late 1960s, the auction business was a time of back lane sales, Wednesday sales, antique sales and outside sales in residential and commercial properties.

It was also a time of the start of the oil industry with a huge rise in business, in particular the inventory checks on rented properties.

Robbie Milne at work.

Robbie had a considerable in-depth knowledge of an extensive ranges of antiques and this expertise was greatly appreciated by many.

Throughout his years as an auctioneer, he enjoyed the respect and loyalty of his long-serving members of staff.


He had a passion for cars, owning some sports cars and hot hatches, and at a Fintray Hill Climb, first met his future wife, Terry Gearing.

Both Robbie and Terry were keen supporters of the Oldmeldrum Games as well as other highlands games and community activities.

Five years ago, Robbie opened the company’s archives to mark the firm’s 150th anniversary.

Changing times

Records reflected the advent of electricity when old gas lighting fittings flooded the market.

By the 1910s, motor vehicles were listed on the firm’s inventories and the end of the First World War heralded the sale of munitions factory equipment.

He will also be greatly missed by his grandchildren, Olivia, Robbie, Sophie, Isabella, and by his sister Frances and brothers Sandy and Arthur.


Family and colleagues described Robbie as a kind and generous man, loved and respected by all who knew him.

He enriched the lives of many throughout the north-east  and his ready smile and good nature will be greatly missed by many.

You can read the family’s announcement here.

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