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Out of the Blue: Rare International Harvester Porcelain Sign

Independence Day Parade 

Can you remember the days when a farmer would go to a hardware store to buy or order a new piece of machinery? This sign is a remnant of that era.

The porcelain sign is believed to have been produced for International Harvester in 1905. It surfaced about 55 years ago in the upper level of Leonard’s Hardware Store in Wakarusa, Indiana. Robert Getz, a northern Indiana farmer, paid regular visits to the store, looking at many old items there. He would routinely ask the owner if he would sell any of them, but was rejected numerous times.

One day, while making a run for a pound of staples, Robert received a surprise invitation. The store owner suggested he go look around upstairs. Robert took that as a green light. He proceeded to load advertising signs and other items on the freight elevator. The owner priced each item and a deal was struck. “Bob came home looking like he had been hauling coal,” his wife, Dorothy, recalled later, “and his livestock truck was full.”

International Harvester Sign 

Robert and Dorothy owned the sign for more than 40 years before selling it at auction several years ago. Distinctly colored – blue instead of the more familiar red – the sign is in mint condition, and is a rare glimpse of the very earliest days of International Harvester. FC