Miniature marvels sell for £250,000 as rare memorabilia goes under the hammer - £150,000 more than expected

Cambridge Vintage Sale raises more than £1m. Crowds flock to the Cambridge Vintage Sale near Ely.

Cambridge Vintage Sale raises more than £1m. Crowds flock to the Cambridge Vintage Sale near Ely. - Credit: Archant

Thousands of bidders turned up to snap up a piece of memorabilia when over 3,000 lots went under the hammer at an auction near Ely at the weekend.

More than 3,000 lots were sold near Ely on Saturday, including historic steam engines dating back nearly 100 years, vintage tractors from the First World War and classic motorcycles that were some of the rarest in the country.

The auction – the largest vintage sale in the UK - is a flagship event for Cambridgeshire-based auctioneer Cheffins and fetched in excess of seven figures.

Among the stars of the show was a collection of six model steam engines that sold for £250,000 - £150,000 more than the guide price.

It included a pair of 4” scale John Fowler and Co BB1 ploughing engines that fetched £72,000 and a 6” scale John Fowler and Co heavy duty low loader that went for £47,000. Meanwhile a model Field Marshall tractor from the same collection sold for £11,000 – around £2,500 more than a full-size version that went under the hammer a little later in the day.


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The collection, which went to bidders from around the UK, belonged to steam enthusiast Gordon Brooke, who passed away in December 2013 and raised rare breed cattle in the Scottish Borders.

Auctioneer Oliver Godfrey said: “It was a tremendous collection and quite unprecedented. We knew that there would be a lot of interest but obviously you are never 100% sure until the day of the sale. What made it so unique was not just its rarity but its condition – the models were exceptionally well preserved, with many of them ready to go. It was quite something.”

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Other lots to perform well included an 1860’s velocipede that originally belonged to a blacksmith in Melbourn, near Cambridge, and fetched £900 - £300 more than its lower guide price.

A fine selection of vintage tractors also went under the hammer – including an exceptionally rare 1917 Overtime Model R that sold around its guide price for £27,500. Meanwhile a 1941 Marshall Model M went for £18,500.

An ultra-rare 1970 Doe D5100 from farm machinery dealer Ernest Doe & Sons, which has its headquarters at Ulting, near Maldon in Essex and runs a network of branches across the East of England, fetched its guide price of £18,000.

The motorbikes section did particularly well with 46 of the 51 lots selling – including a rare 1955 Vincent Black Knight with a guide price of £35,000 that fetched £36,500.

A pair of Triton racers dating from 1957 and 1967 made £4,200 and £4,400 respectively, while a 1930 Triumph Combination which had a lower guide price of £7,000 made £7,500.

The sale also included the second part of the late Michael R Lane Collection, a set of archive and historically important steam literature.

Mr Lane, who passed away last year aged 90, lived in Eye in Suffolk and was a much respected author on steam engines. He was widely known throughout the steam preservation world and was an honorary life member of the National Traction Engine Trust, The Road Locomotive Society, The Steam Plough Club and The Rolls Royce Heritage Trust.

His collection – which included 65 lots featuring photo albums, manuscripts and technical drawings – fetched in excess of its £10,000 guide price. Among items that did particularly well were a works ledger that sold for £500, a set of postcards that went for £700 and a photo album of rare steam engines that made £500.

Mr Godfrey added: “We’re absolutely delighted with the popularity of the sale. Despite some inclement weather we had a fantastic turnout and some very enthusiastic bidding. Interest in the vintage movement appears stronger than ever.

“The Cambridge Vintage Sale is our flagship event and always seems to attract some wonderful lots. This year was no different. There was an embarrassment of riches in terms of the quality on offer and, while the model steam engines were undoubtedly the stars of the show, well restored tractors and ultra-original examples also sold well, while the classic motorcycle trade was particularly bouyant.”

For more details visit www.cheffins.co.uk/vintage.

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