Caps off to hospice

17:00, Aug 07 2012
Mercy
GRAND AUCTION: Amanda Davies of the Ellerslie Mercy Hospice Shop with three rugby caps that are up for auction.

Every day Mercy Hospice Auckland receives mountains of donated goods to sell through its second-hand stores.

Ellerslie store manager Amanda Davies occasionally comes across something really special among the used clothing and paperbacks.

The store has been given a set of three rugby caps that date back as far as 1911. They are accompanied by a rugby team photo featuring the man they belonged to, William George Bell.

"A woman named Gwenda Rogers has donated them to us. Her husband had respite care with Mercy Hospice Auckland and they wanted us to have any money that could be raised by selling them."

Mrs Davies had an inkling the caps would be valuable and a professional auction house confirmed her suspicion.

They are being auctioned on Trade Me with a starting price of $1200.

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When the items were handed over Mrs Davies learned a little of William Bell's history.

His parents John and Sarah Bell emigrated from Cumberland to New Zealand in 1842.

They settled in Clevedon and the family farmed there right up until William's death in 1978. Mrs Rogers and her husband are descendants of the Bells.

The family was the subject of a book, The Emigrants, The story of John and Sarah Bell of Cumberland, by Jean Bartlett.

"People have given us so much feedback about who the players in the photo are. I've been told that some of them probably died in World War I."

Whether the caps were given to Mr Bell for a particular achievement or whether they were simply part of the team uniform Mrs Davies doesn't know.

"The money raised will care for those in your community with life limiting illnesses," she says.

The Ellerslie store is celebrating its fifth birthday and Mercy Hospice Auckland is celebrating 33 years this year.

Go to trademe.co.nz and search for Mercy Hospice Auckland to view the auction, which closes on Friday evening.

East And Bays Courier