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National Trust auction preview under way

The National Trust auction preview is under way (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A First World War cedar box, a rare Alfred Birdsey oil painting and a hundred-year-old Minton tea set are among the prized items going under the hammer this Saturday.

The Bermuda National Trust held a preview this morning for its annual auction — one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the charity — as well as a jumble sale.

Bill Zuill, executive director for the trust, said there were about 300 auction items in the Jack King Building at the Botanical Gardens as well as thousands of jumble sale items in the Commercial Slat House.

“This is a very important fundraiser for us, we raise money in the tens of thousands,” Mr Zuill explained.

“The vast majority of items are donated. Sometimes when someone has passed away the beneficiaries are dealing with the estate.

“It is always a popular event. We had about 60 people waiting outside before we even opened the doors this morning.

“The money raised mainly goes towards our operating costs and our core missions which includes preserving our buildings and looking out for our open spaces.”

Mr Zuill highlighted a number of rare items including an octagonal cedar box dating from 1917.

“This was made by a German prisoner of war who was detained here in the First World War on Ports Island in Hamilton Harbour.

“You hear a lot about Boer War prisoner of war items but in the First World War there were fewer prisoners of war here so this is quite unusual.”

Art lovers had a choice of paintings by Alfred Birdsey, a watercolourist and early Bermuda modernist painter. The collection included an oil painting.

Mr Zuill said: “He was hugely popular with tourists in particular but he didn’t do many oils. He had his technique and that is what he stuck with so this is a good item for collectors.”

A 100-year-old Minton tea set took centre stage in a display cabinet complete with the original catalogue.

“It is really beautiful,” Mr Zuill said.

“Of all the china we have, this is probably the best set.”

Old National Geographic collections are up for auction including an issue about William Beebe and his deep sea diving escapades in a bathysphere in Bermuda.

Among the other items of interest were a single sea ocean going rowing scull, a prie-dieu or a private prayer stand and decorative limestone quarry saws.

The auction preview continues today until 6.30pm and tomorrow from 8.30am to 2pm.

The auction will take place in the Jack King Building on Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

The jumble sale continues throughout today and tomorrow and, if there are any items left, on Saturday from 8.30am to 2pm.