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Collectors buy tanks, military vehicles at auction

Jul. 13, 2014 - 05:02PM   |  

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The Assault Tank Jumbo Sherman, part of the Jacques Littlefield Collection, is displayed at the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation in Portola Valley, Calif. (Jeff Chiu / AP)

PORTOLA VALLEY, CALIF. — Collectors from around the world have snapped up more than 100 tanks and other military vehicles amassed by a Silicon Valley engineer, auction officials said Sunday.

Jacques Littlefield’s collection, one of the nation’s most extensive and historic, was sold in the San Francisco Bay Area during one of the largest-ever auctions of military vehicles.

Bidders from 10 countries and 37 U.S. states bought nearly all of the 122 military vehicles on auction, generating $10.24 million in sales, according to Auctions America, which ran the auction on Friday and Saturday, on behalf of the Collings Foundation.

Littlefield was a Stanford University-trained engineer who collected the vehicles over decades and kept them on his family estate up a winding, forested road above Silicon Valley. The vehicles were used in conflicts ranging from World War I to the Gulf War.

After Littlefield’s death in 2009, his family donated the collection to the Collings Foundation, which plans to use the money to build a military vehicle museum at its headquarters in Stow, Massachusetts.

The top sale was an 8-ton personnel carrier that fetched $1.2 million. Other top sellers include a World War II Sherman tank and a surface-to-surface missile, each selling for $345,000, according to Amy Christie, a spokeswoman for Auctions America.

The auction room was packed and there was strong competition from bidders calling in by phone, Christie said Sunday, noting that Sherman tanks were hotly contested.

The foundation is holding on to the collection items with the greatest historical significance, including a World War I tank.

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