Antique Barn Pulleys and Hay Equipment
Collectors specialize in antique hay equipment, like barn pulleys and hay carriers
An early Faultless.
An article in last month's Farm Collector focused on vintage barns. But the items once housed in those barns are just as much interest to serious collectors of farm antiques.
Interest in barn items sometimes focuses on pieces such as door and stall latches and other fixtures, ranging from the simple to the complex. Barn boards and doors are often recycled in "new" farm buildings and homes, as well as in larger displays of collectibles. Vintage roof-top cupolas sometimes resurface on contemporary structures.
But most often, hay equipment is the category that captivates the collector's attention. Collectibles range from the heavy items, like carriers, suspensions, rails and forks, to smaller pieces, like barn pulleys.
Unless you're a veteran collector, now may be a great time to start accumulating pieces like forks and pulleys. A great variety is still available for reasonable prices at auctions and flea markets, says Missouri farm antiques trader John E. Currie.
"But the old hay slings, which closed around hay to lift it, are about all gone," he says. "All I've seen recently is wooden 2x2s used in the slings."
Except for times when two collectors collide over sale items, John says, prices for most pulleys and forks have stabilized or dropped slightly from a few years ago when there was a surge of popularity.
"In the Midwest, a large rectangular fork might bring $9 to $14 at a flea market," he says, "while many pulleys, even the fancier ones, might average $7 to $12."
Barry Merenoff, New Haven, Mich., specializes in pulleys. He remains amazed at the number of designs, still adding to his collection of 345 different barn pulleys. (His total collection includes more than 900 pieces: block-and-tackle, marine, fence stretchers, light industrial and heavy industrial.)
"Wood sheaves (the round, revolving part), usually hard maple, were more common than iron sheaves," Barry says. "Original cast iron was very brittle, and not feasible for sheaves. Malleable iron or steel were stronger, but came later – probably the latter half of the period from 1850 to 1950." The pulleys required occasional maintenance.
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