PICTURE: Know the harnser? What gruesome, single item made the most money at the Sutton Mill bygones auction?

PUBLISHED: 19:07 12 September 2012

The heron trap, made by H Lane, which sold for £2,400 at the two-day auction of bygones at Sutton Mill, near Stalham. Picture: TW GAZE.

The heron trap, made by H Lane, which sold for £2,400 at the two-day auction of bygones at Sutton Mill, near Stalham. Picture: TW GAZE.


This slightly battered-looking hollow oblong of metal, with its lethal spikes was worth £2,400 to a bidder at today’s sale of Sutton Mill bygones.

The buyer will be taking home a trap, now illegal, designed to catch a “harnser” - Norfolk dialect for a heron.

The device made far more than its guide price of £1,000-£1,500 - as did many other traps in the auction, aimed at capturing everything from a man to a mouse.

The grisly artefacts were among more than 1,000 lots which went under the hammer today and yesterday, raising more than £80,000 in total.

They included domestic, commercial, industrial and rural workplace items, reflecting a century-and-a-half of social history, which had formed the mill’s museum collection from 1976 to its closure in 2008.

Carl Willows, senior valuer with auctioneers TW Gaze, said the event had been “very enjoyable.”

He added: “At rural bygones sales you generally get a really happy, interesting bunch of people.

“One of the highlights were the traps. There are a lot of collectors out there. We had a local contingent and two groups from Yorkshire so there was quite a bit of competition - it made a mockery of my assessments!”

The man trap sold for £1,900, a jawed kingfisher trap made £720, while six mole traps including a “snuffer” and specimen stuffed mole fetched £680.

The highest price paid for a lot was £3,600 securing the assorted contents of an outbuilding which included cabinets, cast-iron turnstiles, printing machines and tools.

Among other notable sales were £2,200 bid for a Lambert and Butler mahogany shop display cabinet, stocked with cigarette packets.

Other tobacco-related items which raised more than their guide price included a Murattis cigarettes advertising mirror which sold for £2,100, while a 19th-century pharmacy counter fetched £1,300.

But one of the crown jewels of the collection, the main part of the former pharmacy mahogany fittings and their labelled contents, is still available after failing to reach the £25,000-£30,000 guide price.

Among many popular off-beat lots was a stuffed, encased, Victorian bittern - now an endangered species and iconic bird of Norfolk’s reedbeds - snapped up by an out-of-county telephone bidder for £620.

A stuffed coypu, the South American rodent species once the scourge of the Norfolk Broads, fetched £65.

Mr Willows said visitors to the sale had included museum curators, including one from Norwich, but he did not know whether they had bought items for their public collections.

The bygones represented more than 40 years of collecting by former mill owner Chris Nunn, who sold to East Sussex-based Yesterday’s World in 2006.

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