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This is Spink’s second major US acquisition. They took over American stamp auctioneers Shreves Philatelic Galleries, who have offices in New York and Dallas, last September. Their aim, they say, is to become the global market leader for all categories in which they deal and sell by auction.

Established in 1880, Smythe now hold six major auctions annually from their Wall Street premises.

John Herzog, who has owned Smythe since 1967, has become a shareholder and acting Chairman Emeritus of Spink USA, and he will be an active participant in developing the joint venture.

“I could not think of a better company to acquire Smythe. My wife Diana and I have been at the helm for 40 years, and have tremendously enjoyed building the business and working with clients and collectors. I look ahead with great excitement to the opportunities presented by this joining of forces,” said Mr Herzog.

“This acquisition is really a powerful match. It instantly creates a leadership position for Spink in banknotes, bonds and shares and worldwide coins. We believe it is the perfect strategic move to better service our clients and continue to obtain the best results for them,” said Olivier D. Stocker, Spink chairman and chief executive.

Mr Stocker became majority shareholder in 2006 and since then Spink have seen growth in the UK as well as the US.

In the UK, in January 2006 Spink took over Lancashire-based B.J. Dawson Coins, and last December they acquired the assets of Shropshire-based numismatic and philatelic dealers Collectors Gallery.

By Stephanie Harris