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Figurehead may fetch stg12,000

Figurehead blocking Oamaru farm hedge may fetch stg12,000

A ship smashed up off the coast of Oamaru in 1868 will have its female figurehead probably sell for up to stg12,000 at auction in London next month. The painted pine figurehead of the Star of Tasmania was later salvaged and in the 1950s was found on a farm near Oamaru blocking up a hole in the hedge, a Sotheby’s spokeswoman said today.

The figurehead goes under the hammer as one of the main attractions at the Sothebys marine auction on June 18.

``It was salvaged by Captain William Sewell, who became the harbourmaster,’’ the spokeswoman said.

``It was later used to block a hole in a hedge on a farm near Oamaru and remained there until the 1950s when it was purchased by an antiques dealer, who in turn, sold it to a couple in Christchurch, who kept it in their back garden.’’

The figurehead was subsequently sold at auction in Auckland. It is being sold by a man from New Zealand who bought it at auction, but he has told Sothebys does not want to talk to media.

The large 192cm high carved ship’s figurehead is accompanied by a full set of documents giving further information on the Star of Tasmania.

This fully rigged wool clipper had made previous visits to New Zealand. She was built by the Scottish shipbuilders – Halls of Aberdeen in 1856.

In 1868, destined for New Zealand, the 632 tonne Star of Tasmania was driven ashore at Oamaru in a violent storm and became a total loss.

Sothebys estimate the cream and blue painted figurehead will fetch between sup to stg12,000. Two of the 22 crew – David Petrie of Scotland and William Brooks of London, and two Baker children lost their lives when the Star of Tasmania was destroyed on the Oamaru Beach foreshore on February 3, 1868. The ship had 2095 bales of wool aboard, bound for London.

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