Cast Iron Seat Collectors Find Gems at Heritage Estate Sale

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Grand Detour cast iron implement seat.
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One of the hog oilers for sale.
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Sale centered on cast iron implement seats, like this one.

Cast iron implement seat collectors sometimes go to great lengths to find collectibles.

That was the case when 89-year-old Don Lanford of Austin, Texas, traveled 28 hours on a bus to attend Art and Martha Heritage’s estate sale in Muncie, Ind., on May 10, 2003. His trip wasn’t in vain – this serious collector returned home with the auction’s most-expensive seat, a Globe (rated a “10” in John D. Friedly Jr.’s Cast Iron Implement Seats V).

The auction was a solid indication that the cast iron implement seat market is very strong, organizers say. Bidding was active and collectors were so enthusiastic that record prices were set for some cast iron seats and even hog oilers, Ken Ellenberger of Ellenberger Bros. Auctioneers reports.

Prices were based on the seats’ Friedly rating, which is a 1-through-10.5 scale based on the seat’s condition, previous auction price and its overall availability. Seats with a “10” or “10.5” rating are some of the rarest known. The sale began at 9 a.m. and lasted more than 6 hours, and Ellenberger Bros. sold more than 700 items, briskly moving the procession along at an average of more than 100 items per hour. The auction included rare cast iron seats, but also featured planter lids, toolboxes and other Heritage-owned antiques.

The Midwest is a great place to hold antique farm equipment auctions, Ellenberger adds, since it’s equally accessible to collectors – around the country and abroad – who were able to converge for an auction of such magnitude. In fact, the first 25 registered bidders came from out of state, and more than 100 bidders from 15 states were represented overall. One seat went to an English collector and another to an Australian.

Charolette Traxler, secretary of the Cast Iron Seat Collectors, says that there hasn’t been a seat auction in a while, which explains why there was such a good turnout. Seat prices held steady compared with previous auctions, she adds, excluding a few “price wars” between collectors. Traxler says that target prices for most seats can be calculated by throwing out the high and low prices for any given seat rating, then averaging the totals. Seats in the Heritage auction held steady, and the prices didn’t go out of range for most collectors.

For more information about the Cast Iron Seat Collectors contact the club at 604 Washington St., Woodstock, IL 60098; (815) 338-6464; e-mail:

A Deep-Seated Interest

More than 420 individual cast iron implement seats, hog oilers, toolboxes and planter lids were auctioned at the Heritage sale in Muncie, Ind., on May 10, 2003, but some items garnered more attention than others. Below is a list of the standout pieces:

Cast Iron Seats Friedly 
Sale Price
  Moline Plow Co.   8   $ 425
  Orion   7   $ 500
  The G.S. Foos Co.    10   $ 850*
   Implement Co.
  8   $ 700
    Brew & Co.
  10.5   $ 1,100
  Davis   9   $ 700
  Van Diver
    Corn Planter
  7   $ 650
    Stalk Cutter
  10   $ 1,300*
  Toledo   10   $ 725
  Globe   10   $ 1,400
  (Never before sold, very rare)
  * Record price
Hog Oilers Sale Price
  Watermelon   $ 300
  Sipe Mfg. Co.   $ 550
  Hog Joy   $ 300
  Sitner Mfg. Co.   $ 650
  Russellville   $ 325 FC
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