Bargain of the day

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The cover of Weir Plow Co. 1886

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The three-wheel plow, above, and the wood standard plow. According to farm implement expert C.H. Wendel, Weir Plow Co. later became well known for its 'Wild Irishman' sulky plow.

Jim Piacenti, a life-long resident of Ladd, Ill., collects postcards, trade tokens and advertising items from his hometown. When he decided to walk across the alley to a neighbor's auction recently, he was hoping to find some nifty, old advertising items for sale.

'The people who lived there had farmed in the area for years before moving to town,' he explains, 'but disappointment set in when all I could find was a pen from a local business.'

Because he and his wife also are fledgling antique dealers, Jim decided to 'shift gears' and look for something they might resell. 'I decided to bid on a certain box lot after finding a small metal bowl from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair in it.'

He says he'd attended auctions before but never as a bidder, and when the lot he had his eye on hit the block, he got very excited. 'I ended up going higher than I had originally planned,' he says. 'Sound familiar?'

After carting his box of 'treasure' home, though, he discovered an 1886 Weir Plow Co. catalogue stuck in a farm records book near the bottom. After thumbing through it, he says, 'I decided I had gotten the bargain of the day!'

And there is more: just before Jim's box was auctioned, another box lot was sold. As the auctioneer's helper was taking things out of that box to display to the crowd, something fell out of her hand and into the box Jim bought. 'It turned out to be the pen I wanted,' he says. 'Some things are just meant to be.'

According to information at the Monmouth, Ill., public library, the Weir Plow Co. opened in 1871 in Monmouth. In its wake, in 1901, the Monmouth Plow Co. was formed, to make a plow designed by W.T.M. Brunnemer, formerly of Weir.

Jim's catalog features such 1886 merchandise as a prairie breaker plow, wood standard plow and three-wheel sulky plow. The prairie breaker is described as 'strong, durable, light in draft and steady running.' The wood standard is listed as 'designed for brush land, and stony and stumpy land' and reported to also have had 'a great reputation as a road plow.' The illustration of the sulky plow, termed 'a grand success' in the catalogue listing, shows it needed a three-horse hitch. The description reports the sulky was capable of turning square corners in either direction and of cutting a uniform furrow. FC

'Never has the saying 'Merit wins' been more strikingly exemplified than in the success of the Weir Plow Co., organized many years ago with the avowed determination to manufacture a superior article, only, in anything they might attempt to make. So strictly has this principle been adhered to that the name WEIR has become a guaranty of excellence, and that the implement bearing that name will be found reliable in every respect. The career of the Company has been one of continued advancement until its product is called for in all parts of the country and its reputation stands unrivaled for ingenuity, enterprise, and thoroughness. Those wanting the best in the line of Plows, Cultivators, etc., should not fail to see our goods. Insuring fairness and justice to all, we rely on a continuance of the liberal patronage heretofore given us. Very truly, WEIR PLOW CO.'