On Saturday the 3rd of June, Cheffins will sell a collection of steam engines and rare vintage tractors owned by the late Richard Vernon. A well-known collector, Mr Vernon amassed more than 200 tractors, steam engines and implements over a period of thirty years, with many sourced from the UK, Europe and the USA.
The four steam engines in the sale are predicted to gross more than £300,000. These include a pair of Fowler BB1 ploughing engines (Princess Caroline and Princess Jayne) from 1918, estimated to fetch between £120,000 and £140,000; a very early 1884 Fowler SC ploughing engine (Aethelflaed), owned by Mr Vernon since 2004 and estimated at £70,000 to £80,000; finally, there is a 1915 Fowler SC Claas Colonial traction engine, estimated at £60,000 to £70,000.
As well as steam engines, there will be a series of rare British and American vintage tractors, including The Grey 18-36 (£20,000 to £30,000) which dates back to the 1920s. Other highlights include a 1925 Peterbro’; a 1920 British Wallis; a 1926 Rumely Oil Pull 15-25; an International Titan 10-20; a Parret 12-25; a Huber Light 4 and a 1920 Sawyer Massey 11-22. These will be sold alongside more common examples from Fordson, David Brown, Case and International.
Bill King, chairman, Cheffins said: “Richard Vernon, who sadly passed away in December 2021, was a successful farmer and one of the early pioneers of tractor and steam preservation. A regular at Cheffins auctions, and one of the most recognisable characters on the vintage tractor scene, Richard Vernon amassed this incredible collection over a thirty-year period, creating what is easily one of the most important and eclectic selections of tractors from one single owner we have seen to date.
“He was a savvy collector over his 80 years and sought out some of the rarest and earliest tractors in existence. He was part of the old brigade of early pioneers of collectors and preservationists and will be much missed on the vintage circuit.”
Richard Vernon, the late Richard Vernon’s son added: “My father learnt to drive a tractor at the age of 12 and his love of tractors and all things vintage continued throughout his life. He was known to have driven one of the tractors, a Fordson Major, all the way from Moreton Wood Farm in Shropshire to Cotesbach, which is around an 80-mile trip down the A5. His lifelong passion for tractors and steam engines went back to his boyhood years, and from a very young age he started collecting model steam engines and building them from kits, with his passion, we believe having started when he visited his grandmother in Stafford and used to watch the steam engines go along the train track at the bottom of the garden.
“His first engines were the pair of Fowler BB1s, which he bought and collected in 1981 from Cambridgeshire which were then sold in the Cheffins dispersal sale in 1993. The funds from these enabled him to buy rarer examples and focus on more ambitious projects. In the same year, his passion for steam engines and tractors started to take him around the world, with purchases from overseas including one directly from the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit. Similarly, the vintage tractors which dad collected demonstrated his passion for all things unique and unusual, with his collection including over 50 examples at its peak, each of which had a wonderful history.
“Dad’s enthusiasm and ability to collect, preserve, maintain, and get mechanical things working was outstanding and a skill that not many possess. His efforts have undoubtedly preserved a unique corner of history and in the steam and tractor field he was very well known and respected all over the world.”
Mr King concluded: “This sale sees some rare opportunities for both steam engine enthusiasts and tractor collectors, particularly with the steam engines, which in recent times have rarely been offered for sale by auction. We are honoured to be able to offer four fabulous examples to the market, alongside such an impressive list of rare vintage tractors. The sale will take place on the Vernon family farm in Leicestershire and is set to be a momentous event in the vintage calendar.”
For more information go to www.cheffins.co.uk