He used to go to all the public functions...especially the picture theaters.
And he always carried a sugar bag to collect empty bottles and cans.
His name was... Albert (Tapper) Torney.
Everyone thought he was a bit eccentric and kids would tease and hassle him.
Then it was discovered that he sold the empty bottles but only some of the cans.
After he died in 1998 (aged 86) his large collection of model cars made from aluminum cans was discovered.
This goes to prove..."you shouldn't judge a book by its cover" - or a sculptor by his sugar bag.
Some of his collection ----
There is little doubt that Sandy rather than Albert made the models in the circulating pictures. And the cars themselves provide evidence. Some of the cars are made from Waikato Beer cans, a New Zealand product. It seems doubtful that Albert would have found many discarded New Zealand beer cans in his travels around Broken Hill.
I contacted Sandy to ask about the origins of the hoax message and he replied with the following information:
I became aware of this hoax email a few years ago, and I have no idea where or by whom it was started. I was actually contacted by the Broken Hill Museum to ask us if I was the actual creator of these cars which I am, as they were getting so many people phoning them and calling in to find out about the cars. It got so frequent that they decided to do something as they had never heard of this Tapper fellow.
Every couple of days I get emails from people all around the world that have thought that the Albert Tapper email looked a bit phoney, and have googled and found my cars, and hence me. I just ask them to reply to who sent them the email, and for them to reply etc to reverse the email trend.
But, while the message misidentifies the real creator of the can models, the other information about Albert (Tapper) Torney is correct. Albert was a much-loved Broken Hill character who collected cans and bottles around the town for decades. A 1987 newspaper article describes how Albert walked for kilometres every day scouring the town for refundable bottles. The report states that, even in 1987, Albert had been collecting for fifty years.
I also contacted the Broken Hill Historical Society for information about Albert. They subsequently confirmed in a reply email that, although Albert did go around collecting bottles in his day, the car models in the photographs were not his. They also note that, at the time the models would have been made, Albert was an old man living in a nursing home.
Some reports suggest that Albert also made can models, although I'm and yet to confirm these reports. Perhaps, who ever cobbled the circulating story together mistakenly believed that the pictures really did depict Albert's work. Or, perhaps in the absence of any pictures of Albert's models, the author decided to substitute the work of another.
Last updated: January 8, 2014