Collectors' observations that wrench prices have trended sharply higher were verified recently in York, Neb. Nearly 1,500 tool lots, mostly wrenches, were sold from the collection of Jim Henry, Osage City, Kan. The auction's gross was in the low six figures.
Last year, Farm Collector reported that the five-year trend for collectible, identifiable wrenches was about 12 percent annually. (read "Getting a Grip on Antique Wrenches") Helped by good publicity and attendance by members of the Missouri Valley Wrench Club, many prices at the Henry auction appeared to exceed that rate. Mailed bids also were accepted by Bailey 6 Associates, auctioneers.
The trend was less accurate for common wrenches and wrenches made in large numbers. For example, some IH adjustable sold for $5 or less. But that wasn't the rule.
"Some of the Olivers were out of sight," says collector Pembroke T. Rathbone, Marsing, Idaho.
"I was only able to buy about half of the wrenches I attended the auction for. There was some variation within some implement lines where there were differences in the numbers made."
Rathbone, who is compiling a reference book on wrenches, said novices should not be put off by such prices. "I hope this doesn't scare the beginning collectors out," he adds. "There remain a lot of collectible wrenches at reasonable prices across the country." Sale highlights: Paris malleable Implement wrench, multi-ended, $55; Osborne 6.5-inch combination cutout wrench (spaces around the name letters) with screwdriver, $410; IHC cutout hub wrench with original hub cap, $325; Chamberlain's wrench (pat. 1912), nine-inch combination monkey wrench, piier and die (thread chaser), $395; Challenge seven-inch malleable implement, one-multi-end, $42.50; Fordson S-adJustables, $12-20 each. FC