John Morris of John G. Morris Ltd, established 1963, and M. Harris & Sons, established 1868
A conversation between John Morris and project lead Mark Westgarth. This is the tenth interview in the extension to our Oral History project, called BADA Voices, and generously supported by the British Antique Dealers’ Association.
John Morris joined the world famous antique dealers M. Harris & Sons in 1946, before setting up his own business, John G. Morris Ltd at Petworth, West Sussex in 1963, with his wife Lorraine. John retired from business in 1996.
In this absolutely fascinating interview John reflects on his first introduction to the antique trade, obtaining a job with Moss Harris & Sons aged just 17 after WWII. John recalls with amazing clarity the firm of M. Harris, recounting his memories of Sidney and George Harris (the sons of Moss Harris), on the interior arrangement of their well-known shop in New Oxford Street, how the business was organised, as well as the wide variety of characters employed by the firm during the 17 years he was employed by M. Harris & Sons. He also recounts enthralling stories of the clientele of Moss Harris & Sons – Lord Kitchener (apparently the only client allowed to wander the galleries unaccompanied) as well as Queen Mary – Moss Harris was Queen Mary’s ‘antique dealer’. John’s own business, set up in Petworth on 4th November 1963, remained in the same location for over 30 years. Our interview with John also includes his memories of some now long gone members of the antiques trade, including ‘Jippy Botibol (J.M. Botibol), ‘Dick’ Turpin and Sam Wolsey.
Photograph copyright Antique Dealers Project, University of Leeds.