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One of the UK's largest private collections of model trains is being auctioned off - and is expected to fetch at least £100k

One of the UK's largest private collections of model trains is being auctioned off - and is expected to fetch at least £100k. The haul - which contains 3,000 items, some dating back more than 100 years - will be sold online next month. Stuart Bull is selling from Chard, Somerset on behalf of a collector who wants to remain anonymous. The auctioneer, 52, says he and his team believe the collection could be the largest private collection ever sold in the UK. Previously stored in the seller's home, shed and greenhouse in Southampton, the trains will be sold on December 10 and 11. The most expensive items are expected to fetch around £600 - with the whole lot valued at more than £100,000. Stuart, who runs Stuart Bull Antiques and Chard Auctions, said: "There are hundreds of boxes. He said he started buying and didn't stop. "It's been great fun. We've had an auction house full of trains and 'trainiacs'. He's going to get a big payday." Stuart and his team had to make multiple trips in a van to pick up the collection from Hampshire and drive it back to Somerset. And he said they were all left laughing when the seller joked that he didn't even like trains - despite the haul. Stuart said: "We finished the first load and he said, 'I don't even like trains'. We all just fell about laughing. "That's very rare. Usually collectors really like the items they are collecting, or there's something specific they like about them." Many of the trains are in their original packaging with the cellophane intact, and many others appear to have only been opened for inspection. Some of the boxes hold Hornby clockwork engines dating between 1900 and 1960, while others are newer, electric versions. The stash also has a mix of pre-World War Two and modern engines made by other big names such as Lionel and British Bassett-Lowke. One of the most expensive items is a gold-plated Railking engine, expected to go under the hammer for around £600. And a Bachmann steam engine model is another rarity, Stuart said, adding that the last one like it sold for £400. The entire set comprises around 3,000 engines, the auctioneer said, with about a third of those old clockwork models. Stuart said he and his team believe the the last largest single collector hoard of trains sold in the UK for £25,000 in 2012. The collection they have is far more extensive - and they believe it could fetch four times that figure. The trains are being divided into roughly 1,200 lots and will be auctioned online at Salesroom.com, Easy Live Auction and Bidspirit. In-person viewings can be arranged for December 8 and 9 for buyers willing to go to Chard. Stuart joked: "We're going full steam ahead and we're on-track with all our preparations for the sale. "We've been dreaming trains, it's almost sent us loco. Fortunately nobody's tried to tender their resignation." Stuart said he first heard about the collection when he opened an email from the seller in September. His company specialises in auctioning collections and can accommodate huge numbers of items in the old supermarket premises. He said when he went to collect the engines he filled one van - and had to go back for a second load. The seller then delivered a third lot using a trailer and two estate cars directly to the auction house. Expert James Fitzpatrick, who is working with Stuart on the collection, said trains are a good way to make money. He said: "The value of trains has gone up 5,000% since 1980, and it’s out performed silver by 20%."

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