Its been a week of unpacking boxes and sorting through over a Century of railway memorabilia. Having been one of the many pre-registered online bidders at Ardent Auctions' recent two day marathon auction of the Snelson Railway Collection in Canberra, two separate shipments of railway memorabilia this week arrived safely on my doorstep on the Sunshine Coast. For a train enthusiast, it was like a little bit of Christmas arrived early.
|Barry Snelson's railway collection as appeared in the Canberra Times took up two floors of Ardent's auction house.|
The Snelson Railway Collection was a once in a blue moon event, rumoured to be the largest single collection of railway memorabilia to go under the hammer in Australia. The man behind the collection was a humble collector by the name of Barry Snelson, a 70 year-old man from the A.C.T. who had spent the past three decades amassing a collection of railway memorabilia that would rival a museum, only to hold his deceased estate auction while he was still alive so that he could help his daughters put a deposit on a house. You've got to admire a bloke like Barry. Not only has he got a good heart, but his collection took up two floors of Ardent Auction's premises in Fyshwick, A.C.T. An article (including the above photo), appeared in Sunday's Canberra Times on November 12, 2016.
|A pre-World War One lineside marker post, paperwork and throttle notch markers from an Alco locomotive.|
Of the 700 or so lots that were put up for auction, some items such as cast iron signs fetched up to $1,400 AUD. A working railway ganger's trike went for $2,000 AUD. While I spent 4 hours on both the Saturday and Sunday logged into the live online auction feed through Invaluable's website, I was mindful of the weight involved in shipping any winning items interstate. So I tried to limit myself purely to items that would enhance the museum quality presentation of my model railway when displayed alongside my layout. In the end, there were 22 lots from the auction that were successfully bid on, carefully packed, shipped and this week opened on the floor beside Philden. Along with the early 1900's railway lamps shown in the top photo, there is the pre-World War I line-side milepost (above), and the water gauge (below) from a long scrapped NSW steam engine that will become restoration projects over the coming summer. The steam engine water gauge is solid brass, measures about 23 cm across and when restored is going to be mounted on the end panel on my layout's staging extension, while the red 1900 NSW shunters lamp will be repainted bright red and sit on my Station Master's desk.
|Some of the NSWGR rules and regulations books are 480 pages long and date back to 1935. The brass steam locomotive water gauge is solid brass and will be mounted on the end of my layout.|
Also added to my growing railway collection are a number of timetables and NSW Railways rules and regulations books, with some dating back to 1935. Unfortunately, having to bid on these as a lot rather than individually, meant that I now have several duplicate copies of the same book. In some cases there are four copies of the same book. So along with what artifacts I am not able to display on my desk or incorporate into my layout's presentation, the balance I will be offering for sale on eBay in the coming weeks, with a live list of links to each item displayed on my collectibles page here.
Purchasing a small part of a railway collection such as what I've shown above isn't a cheap exercise. In my case, the final bill amounted to a little over $700 Australian by the time I paid the buyer's premium and freight costs. But the opportunity to secure a part of history, in this particular case to preserve a small part of the Snelson Collection, in the eyes of a railway collector is priceless. Missing from the above photos were some more modern items, including an original embroidered Countrylink wool jumper as worn by the onboard train service crew in the 1990's. It will become my winter uniform to wear whenever I exhibit Philden at model railway shows in the coming years. Over the summer, I'll be posting a couple of photos of each item as its restored downstairs in the garage before it settles into its new home alongside my layout.
See also; Memorabilia makes modelling better!