A dream come true for fans of military auctions, the collection of Jacques Littlefield was sold off in Portola Valley in California's Bay Area this past weekend. It was a two-day auction that spanned July 12 and 13. Littlefield was a collector of military memorabilia, particularly armored vehicles. He had worked for years in Silicon Valley as an engineer, and amassed the collection over the course of his life until his death in 2009. At the time of his death, the collection, which was kept on Littlefield's family estate in the hills over Silicon Valley, was donated to the Collings Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of transportation and aviation.
Littlefield attended Stanford prior to becoming an engineer and lived on his family estate for much of his life. His collection of military vehicles is considered to be one of the most extensive and well-kept in history.
Results of the auction
The auction drew a great deal of attention from enthusiasts of military memorabilia, attracting bidders from 10 countries and 37 states. Though the auction was held near the Bay Area, many of the bidders called in remotely to try and secure a piece of history for their collection. According to CBS, Sherman Tanks were hotly contested items. The sale ultimately generated $10.24 million in total sales. The single largest lot won in the auction was an 8-ton personnel carrier that went for $1.2 million.
Though nothing else quite touched the $1.2 million shelled out for the personnel carrier, there were several other items that were sold with lavish price points. A World War II Sherman Tank, one of the collection's most hotly contested items, went for $345,000, as did a surface-to-surface missile. Another Sherman Tank sold for a quarter million dollars and a scud missile launcher from the first American conflict with Iraq in the early 1990s went for $300,000.
Ultimately, of the 122 lots up for auction this past weekend, 119 of them sold. The vast amount of money generated by the Collings Foundation through the sale will be used to build a museum of military vehicle history at its headquarters in Stow, Massachusetts. The Collings Foundation also indicated that it intends to keep several of the rarest and most expensive lots in its possession, presumably because those items will see considerable appreciation as time moves on. Though not all of the items being withheld from auction were disclosed, it is known that one of them is a World War I tank, which holds great historical significance.