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The petition, which is due to be submitted to 10 Downing Street at the beginning of next year, specifically calls for business rates to be eased in the wake of art and antiques businesses disappearing from Britain’s high streets.

Launched in April by antiques.co.uk and Henry Sandon, one of the best-known figures in British antiques, the petition has garnered hundreds of signatures from the trade, collectors and the public. But more are needed.

In their submission, Mr Sandon and antiques.co.uk argue that, while the art and antiques industry contributes trade worth billions to the nation’s economy, it has missed out on government assistance handed out to other sectors.

“The antiques industry creates jobs in the UK tourist industry, shipping, transport and conservation sectors,” they argued when launching the petition. “At a local level, antique shops provide an important draw to country cities and towns, helping other local shops and businesses.”

And they further point out the merits of the industry for the environment: “On an ecological level, the antiques industry is important as it values the re-use of old and beautiful things, so reducing landfill and the rapid over-production and consumption of new goods from abroad.”

Mr Sandon and fellow campaigner Iain Brunt of antiques.co.uk are also keen for Whitehall to develop a better grasp of the art and antiques industry’s role in the UK economy.

“We would like the Government to understand that this industry is not a negligible part of English heritage, but an international market leader and a viable business sector that provides employment and generates important revenue for the country in London and in the regions.”

Visit www.antiques.co.uk to sign up to their petition.