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Lichfield man selling lifetime collection of hole punches

By Jordan Reynolds | Lichfield | News | Published:

Some people collect model trains, others stamps, but this Staffordshire man has spent four decades buying more than 200 hole punches.

Since 1978, Peter Duffell has been fascinated by how the simple task of cutting a hole in paper can be achieved in a multitude of ways devised since Victorian times and perhaps beyond.

The grandfather-of six has now acquired more than 200 punches – many of which are engineered with up to 30 separate parts.

The 82-year-old, who formerly taught French, Italian and occasionally Latin, admits some may consider his hobby "eccentric£ but has gained great pleasure tracking down the instruments from across the globe.

“I bought one punch in the states – $1 to buy, shipping $20,” he said.

Some of the 200 hole punches

There are examples from Japan, the USA, Czechoslovakia and Germany.

Most are the familiar double hole punches but some can sheer out four holes and other are multi-hole punches – one ingenious multi device has been manufactured by engineering several standard punches on to a shared platform.

“Modern punches use thin steel plate and plastic which have a colourful, aesthetic appeal to the buyer which older machines did not have,” said Peter.

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“I believe that my collection covers the whole history of punches from the Victorian era to the 1960s and, with a little TLC, would be of museum quality.”

After 40 years of amassing his haul, Peter has now decided to put the collection up for sale and they will be auctioned in 10 lots at Richard Winterton Auctioneers at The Lichfield Auction Centre on September 4.

Some of the hole punches up for auction

He is hanging on to one for old time’s sake – a Swedish model dating from 1900.

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Even Peter’s very first punch – by the brand Bullfinch – will be up for sale. It was bought on impulse in Lichfield Market for 50p in 1978.

“It just looked interesting. I took it home, took it apart, took the rust off it, oiled in and displayed it,” said Peter.

“In a curious way, it’s all down to Lichfield Market – if I hadn’t walked past at that point, none of this would have happened.”

After retiring he ran Holly House bed and breakfast in St John Street, Lichfield, until 2005. He still lives in the cathedral city.

Some of the collection of hole punches

The collection will be auctioned in 10 lots at Richard Winterton Auctioneers at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Wood End Lane, Fradley Park, on Wednesday, September 4.

The sale starts at 9.30am, viewing is on August 31, from 9.30am-12noon, September 2-3 from 9am-4pm and on the morning of sale from 8.30am.

“It is an absolutely fascinating collection the like of which we’ve never before seen,” said valuer Sarah Leedham.

“This could well be the only hole punch collection in the world.

“There is such a variety of ages and designs – it is a cornucopia of delights for stationary aficionados and collectors of interesting and unique, well-engineered devices.”

Email office@richardwinterton.co.uk or call 01543 251081.

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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