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The collection is the most valuable to be offered publicly in France since before the Second World War and the sale will take place in the Grand Hotel – Intercontinental under the joint direction of Richard Bishop of Spink and a French auctioneer.

Traditionally the sales of major French stamp collections have been negotiated in the trade and in pitching for the collection Spink have formed an alliance with Behr, the leading French stamp dealer.

Tim Hirsch, chairman of Spink, told the Antiques Trade Gazette that he was delighted to be able to extend his firm’s sphere of activity into Europe. “There is an appetite for collectables sales in France and I can envisage regular annual sales of Spink specialities – stamps, coins or medals – in Paris,” he said.

Valued at about €6m, the La Fayette collection includes some of the most famous examples of errors and misprintings in French philatelic history.