Hillary's death marked in online auctions

Jan. 11, 2008 at 6:04 PM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The death of Sir Edmund Hillary, the most famous New Zealander ever, has been marked by the appearance of memorabilia in online auction sites.

The priciest item was an ice ax bearing Hillary's signature, The Dominion Post reported. The asking price was $5,000 ($3,900 U.S.).

The commonest offerings were autographed New Zealand $5 bills, which carry Hillary's portrait.

Hillary's fame came from a single event when he and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. Queen Elizabeth II conferred a knighthood on him eight days later.

In New Zealand, the modest beekeeper remained a national hero. Online tributes began appearing as soon as his death Thursday was announced.

"He was definitely one of 'ours.' Even if the rest of the world shared him too," seaspray1 wrote on a message board on the auction site Trade Me.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, temporarily blocked changes to its Hillary entry almost immediately to prevent vandalism.

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