Spike Milligan's poem Auction Stations, a take on the soaring art market, which made £2500 at Bonhams.

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Scripts, letters, scrapbooks, Christmas cards and drawings, even original Goon Show recordings on tape and the 1883 Broadwood grand piano, rescued for a fiver from a demolition site, that his friend and neighbour Paul McCartney would sometimes come round and play, were part of a huge cache of personal possessions and memorabilia on offer.

Milligan's widow, Shelagh, sent the material to auction when she moved to a smaller home, but family disputes over the will and estate followed Spike's death in 2002.

His daughter, Sile, said before the sale that she and his other children [from earlier marriages] had not been consulted and were "deeply distressed". While wishing to maintain a dignified silence, they wished also to make it quite clear that "they have had, and will have, no involvement in this event, nor will they profit from it in any way".

On the day, some lots brought unexpectedly high sums, like the autograph poem Auction Stations illustrated here, which made £2500, not the £100-200 suggested, or the group of handwritten notices in red marker pen, valued at £100-150, that sold for £4200.

Some of the latter were simply daft: "Driver please don't knock - I'll be out at the appointed time"; others more poignant, given his well-known struggles with depression: "Sorry for being me - I don't know how to be anything else."

Annotated if somewhat battered copies of his own books included, at £700, a copy of Silly Verse for Kids of 1961, in which he explains the painful circumstances under which it was written: a failed first marriage and separation from the children whose custody he eventually won.

An archive of his wartime diaries and related material, even his ID card, tin helmet and Royal Artillery forage cap, sold at £5000.

There were, too, high bids for reminders of Spike's many famous friends and admirers.

There were Christmas cards from Charles and Diana, of course, but even more expensive at £6000, a group of seven from George Harrison. An illustrated autograph poem by Paul McCartney, The Poet of Dumbwoman's Lane, reached £5000.

Finally, offered along with the 1883 Broadwood grand piano - which made only £400 - was a copy of Antique Magazine containing the following extract from an article Spike had been asked to write: "...the editor of Antique phones my Manager and says 'Can Spike Milligan write an article for Antiques'?. She says 'Is that autobiographical? I mean he's 70'. 'No, no' says Editor. 'Not necessarily, he can write anything he likes provided it's on antiques'. 'How many words' said my Manager'. 'Could he manage 800?'. 'Oh no' said Manager, 'He only knows 356, if you want 800 he'll have to use some of the same words twice'.

By Ian McKay