More functional and bulky objects will be sold later. Among them: 110 check-in desks with scales and baggage belts, 11 baggage reclaim carousels, 15 escalators, gates, piers and complete air bridges.
Security equipment like full-body scanners and automatic passport gates will be available through private treaty sales after a security check of the buyers.
One may wonder who would want to buy reminders of sometimes frustrating moments spent lining up at the “U.K. Border” sign or staring at an empty luggage carousel.
“Some of the larger items in future auctions will be more popular with other airports,” Ms. Macquisten wrote. “We are also thinking some bars and clubs might be interested in the seating if they want some retro memorabilia in their establishments.”
Most of the artifacts are mundane, to be sure. But observers with imagination can find intriguing messages in the signs saying, “Nothing to declare” or “All Departure Gates.” Or they may find nostalgia in airline signs for Aer Lingus, TAM, Icelandair, US Airways, Air New Zealand, El Al and others.
Most of the items date to after the 1960s, but there are some exceptions, like enamel murals specially commissioned for the airport and created by Stefan Knapp, a Polish-born artist who lived and worked in Britain.
The most popular items in the early bidding wars were the clocks and a departure sign, which had attracted 141 bids by midday on Friday.
By contrast, few people seemed to want a keepsake from airport security: A foot stool used to check shoes had three bids on Friday.
The auction could well be a hit over all if past sales linked to air travel are any guide. After Germany’s AirBerlin — the country’s second-largest airline — went bankrupt last year, a sale of its assets attracted bids from 45 countries.
The chocolate hearts the airline used to hand out to passengers went for as much as 352 euros ($435) for a box of 100.
In addition, decommissioned parts of Concorde, the supersonic passenger aircraft, have been sold at several auctions. The catalog for a charity sale in 2003 in London by Bonhams included everything from flight instruments to cutlery and a case of wine served on board.
As for Terminal 1, it did not age well. By the time it shut down, it was handling 17 flights and 1,700 passengers a day. Its shiny, neon-lit interiors with slick lines and fixtures gave way to a patchwork of old and new surfaces.
For travelers, in the final years, the terminal was more of a drab point of transit to rush through than a place to linger.
The fate of the building, at the center of one of the busiest airports in the world, was sealed long before the coming auction. It will be demolished and the site used for the expansion of the redeveloped Terminal 2.
The original Terminal 2, known at first as the Europa Building, was the airport’s first terminal building when it opened in 1955. It was closed to the public in 2009 and demolished in 2010, with its replacement opening in 2014. The hope is that with its expansion, it will handle about 30 million passengers.