One of the 600 pieces from the Albert Collection, a large Irish silver jug by Erasmus Cope of Dublin, 1718 weighing 37ozs currently with Koopman Rare Art.

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A partnership of Alastair Dickenson, Koopman Rare Art and S.J. Phillips have bought the so-called Albert Collection - around 600 pieces built up by an anonymous collector over a 30-year period and encompassing hollowwares, drinking vessels and a huge spread of collectors' items. Typically a collection of this size and importance would have been sold at auction.

One of the collection's main features is that, rather than concentrating on just one or two categories of silver smallwork as some collectors do, its founder ranged across a wide variety including the utiltarian alongside the luxurious.

The Albert Collection was published two years ago in a survey written by Robin Butler and a representative selection went on display for a two-week exhibition at Partridge Fine Art of Bond Street to mark the occasion.

It has now been bought outright from the collector's widow by the three-dealer partnership for a seven figure sum. "It is unusual for such a large and varied collection to be sold in the trade. It's quite a challenge," Alastair Dickenson told ATG.

Given the size and variety, the aim is to capitalise on the number of contacts that the trio of dealers have between them to disperse the collection. Several pieces had already been sold last week. "It's going off at quite a pace," said Mr Dickenson.

By Anne Crane