Rare collection causes a frenzy

THE bidding was fast and furious.

If you turned away for a second, chances were you’d miss the lot you were interested in — be it a World War I-era spinning wheel, hand-crafted rat traps, lamps and lanterns, or tools that have long lost their place in today’s handyman kits.

More than 100 punters turned out to Albury Showgrounds on Saturday morning to browse and bid on about 500 lots up for auction from the estate of Murmungee collectors Clem and Dorothy Orton.

The collection was housed in the woolshed on the couple’s property, open to adults and children alike as one of the richest collections of Australian memorabilia.

Mrs Orton kept the museum open after her husband died in 2007 until she passed away last year.

Now their daughter Julie de Hennin said, it was time to close the woolshed’s doors and see the impressive collectibles off to new homes.

“It’s quite nostalgic,” she said, surveying the crowds at the auction.

“We hosted a few bus tours (after Mrs Orton died), but it was never the same — people wanted to see mum and dad.

“Sadly none of us can take it on in the same way.”

Mrs de Hennin said the most important items had been donated to local museums in Chiltern, Eldorado, Corryong and the Burke Museum in Beechworth.

Everything else was up for grabs, with no reserve prices set.

Buyers came from as far as Perth for the sale — some dedicated collectors of certain items, others happy to just take a punt.

David Ince and several fellow collectors travelled from Avenel for the auction, setting out at 4am to inspect the collection.

“I mostly came to see the what was on offer,” he said.

“It’s a fascinating collection.

“It’s a pity to see it broken up but hopefully they will all go to good homes.”

Robyn Burns-Taylor, of Staghorn Flat, came away with a few prized items, including a tarnished silver-plated teapot that would no doubt scrub up well.

“It’s obviously been very much loved,” she said.

Ms Burns-Taylor said she fancied herself as “a bit of a collector”, but she too found the auction worth attending if only to see some of the more unique items for sale.

“Some of these things I’ve never seen before, it’s all very interesting,” she said.

“Things were more robust then than they make them today.”

Among the more eye-catching items were a 1930s Kangaroo butter churn — named for the way it “hopped” as the handle turned — and a working diorama of a wood mill.

Mrs de Hennin said a second auction would be held at a later date of some of the larger pieces of farm machinery.

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