|By Barb Van Loo
SHIPSHEWANA, Ind. — Before the tractors, combines and other huge pieces of equipment used on farms, the pieces of equipment were pulled by horses. Before sales representatives traveled with a laptop or tablet that contain pictures and detailed drawings of their product, they traveled with actual working samples of the product they were wishing to place in the merchant’s inventory.
Examples of these items as well as other items found in a country store or around the farm plus a great variety of early signs for items once common but no longer found on shelves were found in a recent auction held by Lyle Chupp, Chupp Auctions and Real Estate, in Shipshewana, Ind.
The standout sign was a metal embossed sign advertising corn shellers made by Black Hawk. This sign declared that they were the Best Ever Made and featured a Native American. To their knowledge, this was the only one of these known to exist, resulting in a final bid of $16,000.
Early John Deere items, including the signs, are always highly desired. The 24-inch by 72-inch porcelain two-sided John Deere Farm Implements sign featuring a four-legged deer was made by Versibrite Signs in Chicago, Ill., and commanded a final bid of $5,500. A second porcelain John Deere sign of the same size for Farm Implements, this one with a seldom-seen black deer, earned $4,500. More of a piece of art than a sign, a framed John Deere litho depicting a deer pulling a buggy was also popular with the bidders and sold for $7,700.
An early horse-drawn milk delivery wagon with a gear made by the Selle Gear Co., emblazoned with M.J. Battle Farm, Center Ave. Road, and showing that they had Tubercular Tested Jersey and Holstein Pasteurized Milk was one of the early pieces of equipment offered. It is now in the possession of a new owner after seeing a final bid of $12,000.
Collectors of corn shellers found several from which to choose – from floor models to handheld ones. A scale model Bucks floor-model corn sheller sold for $6,500; a cast iron six-hole hand corn sheller saw $1,050; and a cast iron box-type corn sheller with an eagle saw a final bid of $3,000. Straddle-board shellers included a five-hole cast iron one and a cast iron straight four-hole one, both of which sold for $3,000. A cast iron Peerless box-mount corn sheller earned $1,200; a cast iron cone-shaped hand corn sheller earned $3,600; and a cast iron table-mount Hawley’s hand corn sheller crossed the block for $2,000.
Oftentimes at a Chupp auction, there are representatives from museums who hope to obtain a piece or two for the museum, thus providing an opportunity for today’s younger generation to see the equipment that was common before the days of the large tractors, combines, etc. Rather than a large machine planting several rows of corn at a time, a farmer might have used a horse-drawn Evans and Foos two-row corn planter, one of which sold for $5,300 at this auction.
Other horse-drawn equipment included an early International Harvester Low 20th Century manure spreader that sold for $1,700; an early John Deere manure spreader with a wooden web that saw $625; and a mostly wooden two-row corn planter with early red paint that sold for $2,000.
A Deere and Webber cutter sleigh in early paint had two doors with a logo on each door and a brass tag. This item was only made for two years, and this one sold for $2,000. A later model John Deere goat wagon, which at one time was a dealership giveaway, crossed the block for $650.
Representing items that didn’t require the assistance of a horse, there was a miniature brass and nickel Oliver walking plow that sold for $2,250 and an early mostly wooden push cultivator that earned a final bid of $900.
Made by the South Bend Plow Works, there was an Army wagon with a hand brake and early blue paint. South Bend Plow Works was started by James Oliver (Oliver plows), and this item was probably from the time of the Civil War. The selling price was $7,000.
Other pieces of equipment included a cast iron horse head horse tie that sold for $325; a six-tine wood and cast iron Jackson hay fork that saw $1,800; an 8-foot horse-drawn walk-behind snow shovel from the Gilford Wood Co. sold for $2,200; and an A.W. Grays Sons stationary threshing machine complete with good stenciling and tags earned $5,000.
From Zenith, a cast iron hanging egg scale brought $1,025; a primitive floor-model commercial vegetable chopper sold for $1,000; a horse-drawn John Deere/Dain sickle bar mower earn $800; and an unusual early tin and cast iron Reuben Daniels hand-crank butter churn earned a final bid of $3,250.
A John Deere seed calibrator sold for $2,000, and an iron hand that was from a Deere and Mansur seed calibrator earned $5,250.
There were signs of every type, size, and material; some were farm-related, some were automotive-related; some were dairy-related; and some were just plain interesting. Many of these old signs could almost pass as a piece of art, especially those in which the product advertised was well in the background. All were sure to enhance a person’s collection.
Signs for Oliver products included a porcelain Oliver Farm Implements sign that sold for $7,200; a large Oliver Plows sand-painted wood sign that pictured the company’s chilled plow that earned $1,400; and a metal two-sided flanged Oliver Plows sign that saw $1,200.
A porcelain Borden’s ice cream sign complete with Elsie sold for $2,900; a round metal Ames In-Cross Hybrids sign depicting a chick saw $800; and a paper IHC McCormick Division lithograph of a dump rake, horses and driver earned $700.
A metal reflective John Deere sign sold for $1,200, and a porcelain John Deere Farm Equipment sign earned a final bid of $2,250.
Salesmen’s samples are not only highly desirable – they are very intriguing. Among the salesmen’s samples at this auction were a 48-inch-long horse-drawn walnut/brass walk-behind cultivator that sold for $5,500; a corn planter inscribed W.F. Probst, Chillicothe, Ohio, that earned $2,000; and a grain drill box with cast iron ends that earned a final bid of $1,250.
A 22-inch wooden farm gate, The Dann Gate, from F. M. Dann, Footville, Wis., with a patent date of March 24, 1903, sold for $1,250; a one-horse-drawn sickle mower salesman’s sample from International Harvestore sold for $6,600; and a windmill marked Stover Mfg. Co, Freeport, Ill. saw a final bid of $4,750.
Other items that caught the eyes of the bidders included a framed paper United States Cream Separator advertising piece that sold for $1,000; a John Deere pocket diary from 1878, which had been signed by John Deere, that earned $800; a three-chime Buckeye steam whistle with an acorn finial that saw a final bid of $1,850; and a cast iron Fairbanks egg scale that crossed the block for $700.
A complete set of De Laval tin cows and calves, all nicely framed, sold for $500; a mechanical fighting bull (pull the tail to make him buck) earned $375; and a large cast iron kettle with cows and ears of corn on the jacket that had been manufactured by the Kenwood Wehrle Co. was on to a new place after attaining a final bid of $1,150.
This represents only a small percentage of the many interesting and diverse items in the auction. If you are interested in or a collector of early farm equipment, early signs in every genre including automotive, farm, agricultural, etc., or salesman’s samples, watch for a Chupp auction featuring these items.
For additional information, contact Daryl Chupp at the auction company at 574-536-8005 or 260-499-0526.