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The announcement came last Thursday morning, bringing Dreweatts, Bloomsbury Auctions, Baldwin's and stamp specialists Apex within a group of companies now valued at more than £130m and putting it in the top 100 of London's AIM listed companies.

As well as stamps, coins, bonds and banknotes, the acquisition means that Stanley Gibbons now become a significant player in the wider world of art and antiques, selling everything from antique furniture and clocks to Contemporary prints.

Noble Investments first announced that their board had recommended acceptance of the proposed acquisition at the end of September, when a cash and shares deal worth 255p a share, 192.5p to be paid in cash, was put on the table.

How Stanley Gibbons will capitalise on their enhanced business network, which stretches from the UK to Hong Kong, Singapore and US, remains to be seen, but group chief executive Mike Hall said: "Our online development plans to create a global online hub for buying and selling collectibles will be enhanced by the wider range in which we now have authority and expertise.

"This acquisition means that sellers can expect to achieve the best realisation possible by virtue of our international reach, the size of our combined databases and superior specialist expertise; whilst buyers can be assured by the Stanley Gibbons guarantee of authenticity and standards of service."

Stephan Ludwig, executive chairman of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, told ATG: "The management and staff of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions are thrilled with this development. The international strength of the Stanley Gibbons brand and its philatelic authority will further enhance the range of services we can now offer our clients. In the meantime we are of course focused on the exceptional diversity and quality of our forthcoming sales calendar."