A  New Hamburg, Ont. woman is auctioning off her family estate on Saturday, with items dating as far back as World War I.

Since last summer, Bonnie Berndt spent more than half a year going through items that her grandparents had collected since the 1800s.

"Basically all my life, I've seen it in the house. Now that I'm the last one left in the house, I'm going through it all," she said. 

"It's been a very emotional ride. Some days have been difficult." 

WWI canvas license plates

Canvas license plates collected by Emerson Luckhardt. These were issued during WWI because there was a metal shortage. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

Considered gems and a treasure trove for many collectors and historians, Berndt's family collection contains items such as canvas license plates — dating back to WWI — when they were temporarily issued because of a metal shortage. 

Laid out in the New  Hamburg auctioneer warehouse are also stacks of postcards, signposts, furniture and household items that are a century old. 

One of the postcards, features a photo of Wilfred Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King. It was signed by Allan Hubert, the mayor of Kitchener-Waterloo, when the town was still Berlin.

"It's just a fascinating journey to see how my ancestors lived, how the community developed and what they did to help it do that," said Berndt.  

'An incredible watchmaker' 

Her grandfather, Emerson Luckhardt, was a jeweller and a collector and because of him, historical items from his time remained in Berndt's family for four generations. 

"He was an incredible watchmaker," said Berndt. 

Millers and Berndt

Justin and Ethan Miller stand with Berndt at their gallery on Webster Street, in New Hamburg. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

Berndt's favourite item from the collection is a small, gold pin made by her grandfather in 1913, to prove to the town's jeweller that he was worthy of entering the business. 

"The pin was almost like his resume to prove that he can handle this business, which he did a good job of [for] many years" she said. 

Berndt said her grandfather also made glasses for soldiers. Because they didn't have any money at the time, they would offer Luckhardt their teeth in return for payment. 

"I did find some teeth that had gold fillings that he had been given in exchange for glasses," she said.

"Just totally out of the blue things like that was fascinating. It was an excavation and an adventure." 

A 'rare' goldmine 

Berndt is listing 174 items for sale. She has also donated items to two local museums — Waterloo Region Museum and Castle Kilbride. 

postcards WWI

Stacks of postcards were collected by Emerson Luckhardt, Berndt's grandfather. One of them was addressed by Allan Hubert, the former mayor of "Berlin," now known as Kitchener-Waterloo. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

Ethan and Justin Miller, brothers and owners of Miller and Miller Auctions, were thrilled when they heard about Berndt's estate. 

"We're finding 150-year-old items and they haven't been touched," said Justin Miller. 

"It's just a time vault dripping with history," said Ethan Miller. "I couldn't believe what I saw." 

The brothers are expecting two hundred people to show up at their gallery on Saturday, and even a larger number to attend the sale online. 

"I think when people find what's here, they'll be quite surprised," said Berndt. "I hope people enjoy it as much as we have."