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Mr Collingridge, who hung up his gavel after a conducting his final silver sale on December 19, began his auction career in 1944 when he started as an office junior at Debenham Storr & Sons. “I didn’t even know it was an auction house when I turned up for the job,” he said last week, recalling the occasion. Nonetheless, with wartime shortages in manpower, promotion happened fast and he had clerked his first sale by the age of 15. He remained with the company through its various incarnations and was established as its head of silver and jewellery by 1975 when the firm, then known as Debenham Coe, was taken over to become Christie’s South Kensington.

During the next 25 years with CSK, Jim Collingridge rose to the position of deputy chairman but continued to take silver and jewellery sales. His final auction finished in style. As the hammer fell on the last lot, CSK staff, who had gathered for the occasion, toasted him with champagne amidst flying streamers.

Mr Collingridge is now embarking on a new career in desktop publishing as editor of the newsletter for the parents and carers of members of AYME, the Association of Young People with ME.