AN extraordinary collection of banknotes, assembled over 40 years by the late millionaire Bolton baker, Tom Warburton, is set to fetch more than £300,000 at auction.

Mr Warburton’s collection contains about 1,000 banknotes, mostly produced during and between the First and Second World Wars, and is expected to sell for between £320,000 and £420,000 at Spink in Bloomsbury, London, on October 3.

It has been put up for sale following the death of Mr Warburton, cochairman of Warburton Bakery, on September 21 last year, aged 83.

Tom Warburton’s son, Ross Warburton, said: “My father was a man of many and varied passions.

“Most of these involved some kind of danger or physical exposure that the rest of us would be too frightened to contemplate, whether it be motor racing, driving or gliding.

“But he also had a fascination for military history and economics, and it was these intellectual pursuits that led him to his longstanding passion for military banknotes.”

Barnaby Faull, the banknotes expert at Spink, described the Warburton banknotes as “a true collector’s collection”.

One note in the collection — which was also Mr Warburton’s favourite banknote—is set to fetch up to £6,000 at the auction.

It is an emergency issue 50 cents note, produced by the Seychelles government shortly after the First World War on November 10, 1919, and the Warburton example was the first one produced — serial number 0001.

Auctioneers Spink say it is “of the highest rarity and importance”.

Two Bank of England notes — one for five shillings and the other for two shillings and sixpence, both emergency issues from 1941 during the Second World War — are likely to sell for between £5,000 and £6,000.

Ross Warburton said: “Assiduous, acquisitive, careful to the point of being commercial, my father was also enthusiastic and knowledgeable.

“His collection was patiently assembled over 40 years and is truly a life’s work. While age robbed him of his physical ability to carry on with his other hobbies, his banknote collecting sustained him into his later years, providing an outlet for his unstoppable curiosity and common ground for the many friendships he made around the world.”

The proceeds from the forthcoming auction will go to the Warburton family charitable trust, set up to further the educational and social development needs of young people.

This year marks the 140th anniversary of the founding of the Warburton family business.

Thomas and Ellen Warburton started off with a small grocery shop in Blackburn Road, Bolton, in 1870.

Now, the Warburton family is said to be worth £495 million, according to the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List, making them Britain’s 141st richest family and £20 million richer than ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, who is worth £475 million.