Hog (Oiler) Heaven
Indiana hog oiler collector sees collection swell to 80
Ron Moore with his collection of billiards-inspired Ball brand hog oilers. While there are many of his oilers that he wouldn't think of painting, Ron enjoys taking a tongue-in-cheek attitude toward his hobby.
Ron Moore certainly doesn't look like a hog farmer. His ponytail and bushy beard might allow him to blend in better at a Harley-Davidson rally than at a farm auction. His vanity plate on his Dodge pickup, though, reveals why he'd rather attend the latter instead of the former: HOGOILR.
With the help of some knowledgeable and friendly fellow collectors, Moore has built one of the largest collections of hog oilers in Indiana. The humble collector was never a farmer, never owned any livestock, yet his passion for collecting the swine skin soothers burns strong. "I've never owned a hog, and I never will," says Moore of Bloomingdale, Ind. The draw for him is the joy of gathering and the thrill of a great find.
He bought one of his first hog oilers while rummaging through a flea market seven years ago. Moore paid $165 for a Health Hog Oiler, originally manufactured in Kenton, Ohio – a price he thought was outrageous at the time. While talking with his newfound friends in the hog oiler community, he learned the oiler was one of a kind. "I sent a picture to them and talked to them on the phone," Moore says. "Now I wouldn't sell it for less than $1,500."
He credits his network of fellow collectors for helping his collection grow to more than 80 pieces, ranging in worth from $30 to $2,000. "All I have learned has come from other collectors," Moore admits. "And I wouldn't have a third of my oilers if it wasn't for others selling me their duplicates. Everyone has a duplicate to sell. And there's always a fool like me with a pocketful of money to buy it."
Richard Bostic of Logansport, Ind., is one such collector in Moore's network. He did more than just sell Moore his duplicates. Bostic spurred Moore's collection by parting with most of his hog oilers. In fact, Bostic can be sourced for nearly one-fourth of Moore's collection.
Once Moore was hooked, it didn't take long for word to spread that he was a collector willing to pay a fair price for quality hog oilers. His other collections and hobbies offer some insight into his enthusiasm. Once he decided to make his own arrowheads, he chipped through a garbage can full of flint. His license plate collection is so large that it is displayed like aluminum siding on his barn wall. And his frog doorstops have long exceeded (many times over) the number of doors in his home.
While Moore has lost interest in those collectibles, his interest in oilers has yet to wane. According to him, their appeal seems to be equal parts historical preservation, their capability of being colorfully displayed, and their simplicity in which they can be operated and refurbished. "I can't tear down an engine and restore it," Moore says with a laugh. "But oilers are childishly simple. They're hog-operated."
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