ONE of Australia's most impressive collections of rural machinery and heritage vehicles will go under the hammer next month in Muswellbrook.
Thousands of items, including vintage steam engines, sulkies, heritage vehicles and antique paraphernalia, some 160 years old, represent a lifetime of collecting by the late Ian Gordon.
The treasures will be auctioned by his wife, Barbara Gordon, through auctioneer Tony McTaggart, on the family farm on March 17.
Mrs Gordon said she never thought to complain about her husband's hobby, which still enthralled him until the moment he died on November 25, in 2010.
"He had this passion all his life, even before I knew him and we had been married 55 years," Mrs Gordon said.
"He was in the shed looking over some of the things when he died.
"I wanted this auction so these items would go to collectors who felt the same way about the things as he did, better than they deteriorate away.
"But it will be mixed emotions for me because he collected all over NSW and they meant so much to him."
Rare items including harvesting machines and ploughs dating from the 19th century will be the centrepieces of the sale.
Two cars, a 1927 Buick and a Morris Issis, and sought-after nostalgic advertising signs are expected to create interest.
Mr McTaggart, the owner of Muswellbrook real estate agency Edward Higgens, Parkinson First National, itself 120 years old, said he had never seen anything like the collection for its range and diversity.
"They are wondrous items of the past and so many, but it is hard to put a figure on what they would fetch because of their rarity," Mr McTaggart said. "There is a big interest in steam in this region."
He had received calls from throughout Australia and New Zealand from enthusiasts keen to know every detail of the collection.