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The core of the formerly diverse Spink auction and retail business – the coins, medals, banknotes, stamps and special commissions division, now based in Southampton Row, London – is up for sale, along with the the parallel American operation. The Spink name will be sold with this part of the business.

Tim Hirsch, who has been managing director of Spink since Christie’s bought it from the Weir Group in 1993, will be actively seeking a suitable buyer for the company. “We are looking for a buyer ready to develop our core business in Bloomsbury, along with the Spink name which is still very strong,” commented Mr Hirsch. He said that the Spink brand had been inevitably overshadowed by the even stronger Christie’s name after the take-over, but that it still carried a lot of weight.

“I had a number of calls expressing interest in the business when the move to Bloomsbury was announced last year in Antiques Trade Gazette,” he said.

He is confident that the business in its current form has great potential and believes that under new ownership there can still be a close association with Christie’s who will no longer have an outlet for the coins, stamps and medals which are Spink’s speciality.

Discussions are already under way with the current management of the three other remnants of Christie’s venture into the retail side of the art and antiques business: Spink Indian and Islamic works of art in St James’s, Spink Furniture Restoration in Bayswater and Spink-Leger Pictures, the fine art dealership, in Bond Street.

When Christie’s purchased the 330-year-old Spink business nine years ago, it was a veritable art and antiques department store, offering everything from English watercolours to Tibetan art, with coins and medals at the heart of the business.

Though Christie’s attempted an intelligent expansion of this new retail side of their business, opening a high-profile but short-lived jewellery department on King Street right next to the Christie’s main entrance and purchasing the Leger galleries in Bond Street, the hoped-for synergies between the two businesses did not develop.

Major rationalisation came last year with the move of Spink coins and medals to Bloomsbury.

Christie’s were left with four viable businesses, now for sale, and Spink’s former premises in King Street. The final fate of the latter has been the subject of intense speculation, but appears undecided.