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Well known for an encyclopaedic knowledge of British history, Simpson, who worked for the Department of Trade and Industry, was considered the leading collector.

Focusing on wares from the pre-Victorian period, he amassed a collection of more than 550 pieces over 30 years chronicling royal, social, political, war and maritime events from the reign of William and Mary to the 1838 coronation. He was aided in his quarry by Kensington Church Street dealer the late John May.

Simpson had hoped that the collection might remain intact in an institution but, after enquires led nowhere, he entered into discussions with Andrew Hilton of Historical & Collectable, known for its regular specialist auctions of commemoratives, to handle the sale.

Hilton will conduct what promises to be a landmark auction in conjunction with Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury on September 8.