Craft / June 2019

C.W. Dixey & Son: Seeing the truth

What do Sir Winston Churchill, seven Kings and Queens of England, Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor Qianlong of China, and James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, have in common? Here’s your answer…

C.W. Dixey & Son was founded in 1777 in an old Georgian building at 3 New Bond Street, London. Serving seven successive Kings and Queens of England, the eyewear brand is in that rare bracket of family-owned English companies that are still thriving since the 18th century. George Washington had just defeated British general Charles Cornwallis at the Battle of Princeton and Captain Cook was on his third and final passage, to put history into perspective. Even a cow was on hand in the back yard, to cleanse the thirst of customers, some of whom had been making the voyage in horse-drawn carts for weeks.

Contrary to its name, it was founded by William Fraser. Having built up a reputation for his optical and mathematical instrument company, Fraser secured a royal warrant. Some years later, after the Fraser line died out, it fell into the hands of the Dixey Family. It became G & C Dixey in 1824, before the final move to C.W. Dixey & Son in 1860.

While telescopes and barometers were in demand, it was the company’s eyeglasses that gained it an un-refutable reputation in powerful circles. Over the course of the 242 years that followed, Dixey acquired 15 British Royal warrants, fitted 10 prime ministers and brought the world into focus for emperors, artists and authors alike.

 

 

 

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Freddie Anderson