Auction of Large Agricultural Museum Pieces


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R.D. 2, Box 842 West Winfield, New York 13491.

Early Westinghouse thresher hand feed and drag stacker, made in Schenectady, New York, around 1890, used until 1952. Bought at the September 1992 Chapman auction by Steve Davis.

The central New York town of Bridgewater was the setting September 3 and 4, 1992 for the dispersal of Vyron Chapman's large agricultural museum. Martin Auctioneers of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, handled the sale. Their specialty is generally large carriage, wagon, and tack sales.

Mr. Chapman operates a large potato farm, and for many years has accumulated early farm machinery. In the winter months a lot of the machinery was restored in his very large and well equipped farm shop and then placed in his museum building. This building was built in the 1930s as the hop barn for what was planned as a rebirth of the once flourishing hop business. However, it was only used once before the whole project went under. The building is still in great shape, largely because solid copper was used to roof the entire structure, a costly method in any age.

'The Pennsylvania' barn thresher, made by Heebner and Sons, Lansdale, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. A very early machine bought at the Chapman auction by Doug Satterlee, Bridgewater, New York.'

Because of Mr. Chapman's involvement with potatoes, many of the machines related to the planting, hilling, dusting, and harvesting of them. He did not however, neglect other aspects of farming, as evidenced in the auction catalog, which ran to forty pages! There was truly something for everyone broad axes, tomahawks, butter workers, washing machines, cook stoves, ice tools, about 50 walking plows, 40 cultivators, and about 60 wagons, sleighs, buggies, and related vehicles. An unforgettable sale to say the least.

I will consult my notes in the catalog and give the prices for the machinery which would relate to the Iron Men Album. All machinery in good or restored condition.

Model T ton truck $3650; foot powered metal lathe $350; hand operated drag saw $50; one row corn planter $45; a Shaw Du-All tractor $100; dog tread power $260; 3 HP Stover gas engine $150; Fairbanks-Morse style C, new, still in crate, $400; J. D. horsedrawn spreader $100; Adriance team mower $50; Wood one horse mower $300; Crown grain drill $20; unusual team mower with cutterbar between the wheels $400; Johnston rake-off type reaper $200; all wooden hay loader $30; wooden land roller $25; two stationary barn threshers, one a Heebner $110, and one a Leon Damour $65; a large Westinghouse thresher $75; small Emery Brothers groundhog thresher $10.

The single and double seat buggies and sleighs generally sold in the $300 to $700 range. The heavier type vehicles were highlighted by a real nice J.D. grain wagon at $450, and a Gruber type wagon at $1400. The walking plows generally fell in the $40-$50 range, as did a good share of the walking cultivators. The sulky plows went in the $100-$120 bracket, with riding cultivators in the same general range.

I attended both days of the sale with wife Sally and good friend Doug Satterlee and, as usual, we couldn't resist buying some treasures to add to the home collection. Even though we only live five minutes away, it took about six hours to truck it all home, as we bought some of the larger and most unwieldy items. I've included a picture of my poor and much abused single axle trailer staggering under the bulk of the early Westinghouse thresher. This, of course, was only one of many trips, but it was certainly the most precarious. Would I do it all over again? Sure I would!