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Do you know those six year olds who love to watch trains thunder past, and to play with toy locomotives?
Graham Dann remembers seeing steam trains at Frankston as a child and being awed by their noise, smell and power.
Signs, signs, everywhere a sign: Graham Dann with some of the railway signs he is selling on Sunday.
Photo: Jason SouthAnd over 50 years he has translated that sense of wonder into a giant collection of railways, telephone and advertising memorabilia.
Now at age 55, he is selling almost everything at two auctions this weekend: more than 1100 items, which auctioneer Gary Latham says are worth about $500,000.
Until now, the pieces have been crammed into his house and garden in Rowville.
The treasures includes 50 of the classic humped station signs, called ‘‘targets’’, which were once attached to platform buildings and poles.
Some are from well-known suburbs including Jolimont, Heidelberg and Toorak.
Graham Dann, pictured at Yarra Valley Auctions, with the station sign he drove for three hours to buy and a vintage railway lantern.
Photo: Jason SouthOthers are from more obscure stations such as Merri and Hartwell, and one is from a station that no longer exits – North Port, on the Port Melbourne line.
Also up for sale are more than 200 model trains, a pair of four-metre-tall mechanical signal towers, and even a large Victorian Railways luggage trolley.
Mr Dann would get a buzz from spotting a piece to buy, whether from fellow collectors, government sales, or spotted from his car.
He once drove for three hours to a central Victorian town to buy an Upper Ferntree Gully station sign because he worked in that suburb.
Anyone have a light? More than 200 antique railway lanterns are for sale.
Photo: Jason SouthHe had seen the sign years before on a garage door.
He acquired 1000 antique kerosene railway lanterns. Initially he wanted just one but, he says, "it got a bit out of control’’.
Mr Dann has offloaded most of these and this weekend he is selling the last 250. They were used by railway workers from the late 1800s until the 1980s to signal train drivers to stop or go in the dark or fog.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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