When tailor Henry Price first set up shop in Silsden, his stock consisted of just three collars -- and a few empty boxes to serve as window dressing.

By the time of his death, he was a clothing tycoon with two mansions and a fabulous collection of antique furniture and works of art.

Sir Henry made his fortune by making 50 shilling suits -- £2.50p in current cash.

His antique and art collection, which has remained largely intact since his death, aged 83, in 1963, is now to be broken up and sold at auction by Sotheby's, in London, for an estimated £2 million.

The collection tells the story of an astonishing rags to riches adventure of a man who set up his first clothing shop in Kirkgate, Silsden.

Price's Taylors, as his business later became, boasted more than 500 outlets employing 12,000 staff.

He ended up rubbing shoulders with Royalty -- he knew Queen Mary and the Duke of Kent -- and he was a friend of Prime Minister Harold MacMillan.

But he never forgot his northern roots and donated a large sum to the new Bradford Grammar School, gave cash support to Silsden Playing Fields Fund and was president of Silsden Agricultural Show.

He married seamstress Ann Elizabeth Craggs in 1899 and they sold hosiery from their cottage in Silsden, before opening the shop, and while Henry was manager of the Grand Clothing Hall, in Keighley, a job he got aged 19.

Later he made 30-mile round trips on his bicycle to buy cloth. His hard work paid off and in 1906 the couple opened their first shop.

The real breakthrough came in the 1920s with the introduction of the "fifty bob suit" the price of an average weekly wage. "I can halve my prices and double my sales," he said of his revolutionary production line techniques.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Price's Tailors turned out military uniforms -- and, afterwards, demob suits.

Price bought Wakehurst Place in Ardingly, West Sussex, in 1936, following the death of his first wife and moved in two years later. As well as completely restoring the house, he saved the famous garden created by Sir Gerald Loder.

Knighted in 1937, Sir Henry married again in 1939, his bride, Eva Mary Dickson , 30 years his junior. He moved out and his antiques were moved to outhouses and stables.

James Miller, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Europe, said: "It was an exciting moment when we discovered that Sir Henry's collection had survived almost intact, having been lost to view following his death.

"The collection gives a fascinating glimpse of life in the country houses of pre-war England. It reflects the staggering purchase power of an industrial magnate."