Cast Iron Seat Collector Travels Globe for Rare Seats
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Don sends seat “scouts” searching for rare finds, and stays in frequent contact with other collectors to keep current on trends in the hobby. Don bought most of his seats at tractor shows, flea markets and antique auctions, which he says are the best places to find authentic and rare cast iron seats.
Trading is also a common practice for Don. “Some folks don’t want to buy seats,” he explains. “They only want to trade.”
Of course, sometimes Don is just plain lucky. He found one seat, an Avery (Type 2) No. 56, at a flea market for just $10. This seat doesn’t have a part number, so it’s much more rare than the other Avery seats. “That’s what I call a sleeper – the ones that just creep up on you,” Don says. It turns out the price was right, and so was Don’s hunch. The other seven Avery (Type 2) seats that sold in recent years each brought several hundred dollars.
The Internet is another tool for collectors searching for the perfect seat. Don found a Reuther Elevator Digger No. 2, No. 891, on eBay, an Internet auction site. Don was a bit skeptical about using the Internet – not to mention buying a seat sight unseen – but submitted a bid for the seat regardless.
When he was outbid, Don forgot about the seat. Surprisingly, he received that very seat as a gift for his 90th birthday in April – Don’s son, Bob, was the person who’d outbid him online.
The Texas traveler
At the age of 90, Don has seen the world change, as well as shifting trends in seat collecting. “They’re getting harder and harder to find,” he says. “People have started making reproductions of the rare seats, so you have to watch for those. Lots of them are coming out of Mexico.”
But this Texas traveler can still often be found combing the country in search of collectible seats. In May of last year, Don traveled 28 hours on a bus to attend Art and Martha Heritage’s estate sale in Muncie, Ind. The trip was long and exhausting, but its fruits were sweet. Don bought the auction’s most expensive seat, a rare Globe No. 445, rated a 10 (for more on the estate sale, read “Cast Iron Seat Collectors Find Gems at Heritage Estate Sale”).
Don actually bought the seat as a gift for Ted Edwards, a seat collector from Wales. This effort shows that Don’s travels have brought him not only rare seats, but also irreplaceable friends.
Don met Ted in the early 1980s through an ad in the Collectors Association newsletter. The two traded seats and soon became good friends. Today, they pay each other’s membership dues for seat collecting clubs in their respective countries, and both have made the trans-Atlantic journey to visit each other. “We’ve probably traded 50 to 70 seats with each other,” Don says.
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