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Hot competition for pricey sheep shears

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that a pair of shears used by legendary Australian sheep shearer Jackie Howe has sold for $38,000 at auction.

The mechanical shears, used by Howe for many years, were listed for auction on Oct. 29 by Sotheby’s Australia. The auction house put an estimate on the shears of $15,000 to $25,000. A Sotheby’s spokesman said the auction was “hotly contested.”

Howe was a legendary Australian sheep shearer at the end of the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, on Oct. 10, 1892, Howe shore a record 321 sheep in seven hours and 40 minutes. He also set the weekly record, shearing 1,437 sheep in 44 hours and 30 minutes.

Howe’s daily record was beaten by Ted Reick in 1950, but Reick was using machine shears.

Sotheby’s said an inscription on the handpiece showed it was presented to “Jack Howe” in January 1893 by the Wolseley S.S.M.C. (Sheep Shearing Machine Company).

The ABC reported that Sotheby’s Australia chairman Geoffrey Smith said Howe was not only a champion of the shearing shed but a champion for the worker and contributed strongly to the Australian labour movement.

“While the man is no longer with us, his legacy remains through the tool of his trade.”

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