A new home can come with some hidden surprises – mostly problematic – but for one Queensland couple that surprise turned out to be worth almost $50,000.
Cathy and Phillip Harth’s new purchase in Cawarral, a rural town near Rockhampton, came with two garden sheds and their contents – including an unassuming milk crate filled with dirty metal parts.
"I looked at it and thought do we really need more stuff? Like we've already got enough crap that we carry around with us," Mrs Harth told ABC News, admitting they almost threw the box out.
"Then I've wiped the front of it and I've gone, 'This looks like a damn clock’. I thought it looked a bit fancy.”
Attempting to put the 50cm high, 40cm wide clock back together, they discovered it was in the shape of a five-tier birthday cake, complete with 100 candles.
An engraved plate revealed the clock was in fact the Centenary of Melbourne Birthday Clock Cake, made in 1934 by J.W. Steeth and Son – a silversmith famous for designing and making the Melbourne Cup.
The clock was made to commemorate the city’s 100-year anniversary, which was celebrated at the time with what was reported to be the world’s largest cake ever made – a giant fruit cake weighing a whopping 10 tonnes.
The Harths spent “hours and hours” trawling the internet for information on the curious find, but were disappointed when two auction houses told them the clock was not worth the cost to mail it to them.
Then, in May, the couple contacted Gibson’s Auctions in Melbourne, who were “enthusiastic” about the clock.
Dennice Collett, a consultant at Gibson’s, described the find as “extremely important” to Victoria’s early history.
"It's really one of those fake or fortune moments,” she told ABC. “We call these things a barn or shed find. I've been in this industry now 10 years and this is probably the most fanciful and wonderful story I've experienced.”
With an opening bid of $30,000 and 14 eager bidders, the clock eventually sold for $48,000 – leaving the Harths stunned.
"It could have easily gone to the dump but we had a few lucky breaks and really everything just fell into place,” Mrs Harth said.
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