John Sharlands was a well-liked Nelson personality but most didn’t known anything about the vast array of rare items gleaned from a lifetime of collecting.
Hamish Blanch knew his cousin liked to collect. John Sharland was always at the Nelson markets or antique stores sniffing out something rare.
“He enjoyed the process of the acquisition,” says Hamish. “He enjoyed hunting stuff out and the interaction with whoever was selling it. He was really well-liked.”
But Hamish had not stepped foot inside John’s house, on the banks of the Maitai, for more than 20 years. Last October, Hamish, who had been overseas, went over to check on John. He saw that something wasn’t right. The door had been opened. John, who had been sick for some time, had died and emergency services had been called.
But what Hamish saw inside that house amazed him. Plastic bags filled every room from floor to ceiling. There was no space anywhere.
When the house was filled up John had resorted to piling up his collections under tarpaulins outside.
“Even as a young person he was picking up bits and pieces,” Hamish says. “But I didn’t realise it had gotten quite this epic.”
Hamish knew John had good taste, so instead of bringing in the skips to get rid of a lifetime of stuff he called in Tim Gladstone and Lipscome Auction House to help sort through it.
It took them six weeks to get through it. But it was worth it. Amid the junk were some of the rarest items Tim had ever seen.
“It is probably the most amazing collection I have seen in all my years,” he says.
“We will never see anything like this. The calibre and breadth and quality of collecting. The scope is huge.”
Cameras, binoculars, military, tools, magic lanterns and car badges all now fill Lipscome Auction House.
“He was a collector, wasn’t he,” says owner Warwick Savage.
He had to lease another premises just to house all the items while they worked through them.
“You couldn’t chuck anything away because you don’t know what was in it.”
Included in that were 1000 Fun-Ho! Toys, one of which he paid $450 for it. Fun Ho! was a Taranaki-based company which built toys that are now highly collectible. Representatives of the Fun Ho! Museum are coming to attend the auction.
It is likely one of the largest private collections in the country.
“The whole house had to be painstakingly gone through,” says Warwick.
“In my time in the industry I’ve never even heard of a collection like this, let alone seen one. It is definitely unique.”
John worked at the Nelson Car factory – for about 30 years until it closed down. When that closed he went to Sealord and worked as night cleaner.
Outside the house were also various cars. Hidden in a corner was also the frame of a Ford Model A.
Warwick says he would love the people to come down and see it, even if they didn’t plan on buying anything.
“This is a life-long collection. It’s very unusual and very special. This is John’s life spread out here.”
The auction is now open for viewings at Lipscomes Auction House on New St, until this Saturday 24 February when the auction will begin at 9am.