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The collection, described by Bonhams' director of design Mark Oliver as "a bit of a treasure trove", was put together by the vendor in the 1970s and '80s, a time of rich pickings for those interested in British decorative arts in places like Antiquarius and Camden Passage.

In 1989 he decided to stop buying and deposit his collection in a bank vault as security for the future. Now he has decided to cash in his Arts and Crafts 'pension pot' and consign it to auction.

As a result, Mr Oliver took possession of six metal trunks from the bank to unpack in Bonhams' Knightsbridge rooms. They were filled with around 500 pieces of silver and other metalwares and Pilkingtons Lancastrian art pottery wrapped in newspaper from 1989.

He reckons over a third of the content is Liberty metalware, both silver and pewter from their Tudric and Cymric ranges, with a strong input of designs by Archibald Knox, a timely offering given this year marks the 150th anniversary of Knox's birth. The collection covers the full Liberty range, from gold and silver jewellery, candlesticks, spoons and boxes to sugar sifters, napkin rings and clocks. There is also a large selection of Newlyn and Pearson metalwares.

The first taster from the collection will go under the hammer on June 18 when half a dozen key pieces of metalware will be included in the sale of Decorative Arts from 1860 at New Bond Street.