Norfolk collector's rare vintage tractor auction sparks international bidding battle
Brown & Co
One of the nation's finest collections of vintage tractors has raised thousands of pounds from buyers across the world after going under the hammer in Norfolk.
Bob Parke, from Marsham near Aylsham, spent 25 years amassing his extraordinary assortment of Massey-Harris farm machinery, which was regarded as the biggest - and one of the best - collections of these machines outside the USA, including several models unique to the UK.
But at the age of 78 he said the time had come to downsize his prized collection and "get some money back in the bank".
The auction brought 500 bidders to Marsham on sale day, and generated interest from across the UK, Europe and North America.
The star lot was a fully-restored 1920 Sawyer-Massey 11-12 tractor, one of only two in the UK, which made £40,000.
Other significant lots among the 50 tractors include a lovingly-restored 1937 Pacemaker which made £7,200, a 1930 general-purpose tractor which made £11,000, and a "one-off" pair of Massey-Harris 55 diesel tractors linked together by a dealer in Montana to double the horsepower, making it the first 110hp tractor - the lot fetched £25,000.
Unsold vehicles which didn't reach the reserve price included a 1956 US Air Force tractor, which Mr Parke believes saw service at RAF Sculthorpe near Fakenham, and a 1941 Massey-Harris 82, used by the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Mr Parke said, despite some disappointments, he was happy with the overall result.
"I never did intend to sell everything, but I have got a couple more left than I had expected," he said. "I have got 20 left in the shed instead of five.
"All the main ones sold, but there are a lot of the mid-range ones which I have still got. And I have still got the military tractors. There was not much interest in them, but I don't know why because they are very rare and very interesting tractors.
"But I am quite happy. There was a story behind each tractor and they meant a lot to me, so I was not prepared to just give them away."
Auctioneer Simon Wearmouth, a partner at the Norwich office of rural agency Brown and Co which conducted the sale, said: "We have had significant interest in this collection from across the UK, Northern Europe and North America.
"Bob's collection of predominately Massey-Harris tractors and machinery was a sight to behold and the 500-strong crowd of sale-goers enjoyed the spectacle and provided stiff competition for the prized lots."