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POW camp artefacts for auction

Later today, Mowbray Collectables will auction two walking sticks and a cigarette holder carved by Japanese prisoners of war [POWs] interred at Featherston during World War II.

Over 800 prisoners were interred at the camp during the war, and many carved objects to barter with the guards.

The three items were originally acquired by a food supplier to the camp, who bartered for them with the prisoners.

His son consigned the objects to Mowbray Collectables for auction.

Mowbray’s numismatist [coin specialist] Liam Jennings said the two walking sticks and the cigarette holder were excellent examples of the sorts of carvings produced at the camp.

“This is the first time we’ve had these carvings, so we went to Featherston Heritage Museum to verify their authenticity.”

Both walking sticks have a bullet casing as the tip and have a coiling snake design with paua eyes.

The first walking stick has a carving of a frog and a ship at the top.

The second walking stick has a carving of a naked woman sitting, the only known walking stick carved by the POWs to have this design.

Mowbray’s estimated they would sell for $400 each.

The cigarette holder features another carving of a naked woman standing on her left leg, and is estimated to sell for $300.

Coins, banknotes, and medals director David Galt said he anticipated considerable interest in the items from collectors and museums interested in militaria, regional history or family connections to the objects.

The two-day auction starts at noon today at West Plaza Hotel on Wakefield St Wellington, with the three carvings scheduled for sale between 1pm and 2pm [lot numbers 122, 123 and 124].

Online bidding is available.

Over the two days, an estimated $1.3 million of coins, medals, stamps and other items will be auctioned.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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