A VINTAGE tractor and rare first edition book are among the lots at a charity auction in Dorset.

Dorchester auctioneers Duke’s is running the auction to support the Dorset Opera Festival as it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

The event will be held at the Tithe Barn in Hinton St Mary on Saturday, March 8 and will be overseen by Garry Batt from Duke’s.

He said there was plenty to get bidders excited among more than 350 lots on offer at the auction.

Mr Batt said: “I was really surprised at the genuine high quality lots in this sale – furniture, china, jewellery, silverware, paintings and vintage wines as well as the downright quirky.”

One item already threatening to spark a bidding war is a 1951 Massey Ferguson tractor, valued at between £1,500 and £2,500.

Dorset Opera Festival artistic director Roderick Kennedy said: “There are certain gentlemen in the county that are preparing to go to war over this.”

The auction also includes memorabilia items that may appeal to specialist buyers such as a letter written by Australian opera dive Dame Nellie Melba and a letter from Hitler’s favourite composer Richard Wagner to conductor Hans Richter.

Another lot attraction attention is a first edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories that was believed to have been giving by the author to his son and has a handwritten inscription inside the cover.

Other items include a rare Afghan tribal leader’s embellished scabbard dating back to around 1830, a collection of 18th century Toby jugs, a ewer and goblets from the same period and a range of jewellery items, pieces of china and paintings.

Chairman of the Dorset Opera fundraising committee Susanne Parkin, who came up with the idea of the charity auction, said she had been thrilled with the response to the event and hoped the event would help the committee achieve its fundraising target this year.

The auction starts at 11am on Saturday, March 8 with an invite-only preview event being held on the previous evening.

The Dorset Opera Festival will celebrate 40 years of summer performances when it goes on tour later in the year.

For more information about performances and fundraising events visit dorsetopera.com or call 01258 840000.