Hay Tool and Cast Iron Seat Collectors Engage in Joint Venture

Two-day spring show unites hay tool collectors and cast iron seat group for exchange of ideas.

| September 2015

  • Jay Hankee Dairy Barn
    Jay Hankee and his cut-away model of a round dairy barn. Of all his models, he says, the round barn is the biggest crowd pleaser.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Antique Mailboxes
    Not directly related to either seats or hay tools, but fascinating nonetheless: A display of antique mailboxes gathered up by Jay Hankee.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Carriage Steps
    Detail of carriage steps in Ernie Thackery’s collection. One step carries the initials M&T accompanied by an image of an elephant. Ernie says some have speculated that it might be a step from a Mansur & Tebbetts White Elephant carriage. Alvah Mansur partnered with Charles Deere of John Deere Plow Co. on several business ventures in the late 1800s.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Drew Storage Device
    A Drew storage device from the collection of Steve Renz. “It was used to hold horse harness and fly net,” he says. “I have yet to see another one.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Inside Seat and Tool Display
    Inside displays put cast iron seats and barn equipment cheek to jowl.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Jeanine Kintigh
    Jeanine Kintigh, Webber, Kan., hand-paints fine detail on cast iron seats. At home, she often paints seats in the evening. “It’s how I relax at night,” she says.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • John Deere Painting
    The Cast Iron Seat Collectors hold a painting competition as part of their meets. This hand-painted John Deere grain drill end plate, entered by P.T. Rathbone, Marsing, Idaho, took first place in its category.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Lebert Baskett’s Seat Collection
    Seats from Lebert Baskett’s collection. They may seem indestructible, but cast iron seats break easily. “When you haul them, you stack each one on end,” Lebert says. “If you stack them like pancakes, they break.”
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Litter Carrier
    A working litter carrier display was erected by Roger Elliott, Libertyville, Iowa. “A litter carrier installed in your barn will enable you to load fresh manure into a wagon or spreader and make the work mere child’s play,” notes text in the Louden Barn Equipment Book.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Louden Construction Box
    Dennis McGrew with an original Louden Machinery Co. box full of components used in hayrack construction.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Louden Cupola
    Louden Machinery didn’t limit itself to tools used inside the barn, as this original cupola (from the collection of Doug de Shazer, Crofton, Neb.) shows.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Louden hoisting singletree
    This Louden hoisting singletree from Dennis McGrew’s collection is more than a century old. Dennis has restored it as close as possible to its original condition.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Louden Machinery Ladder Step
    Louden Machinery Co. branched out into production of playground equipment, as shown by this step from the ladder on a playground slide, part of Dennis McGrew’s collection.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Peerless reaper seat
    A rare No. 10 Peerless reaper seat displayed at the show.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Pierce Plough Foundry Seat
    An intricately painted seat from Pierce Plough Foundry, County Wexford, Ireland, was displayed at the show. The piece is owned by Bill and Ruth Vesper, Staunton, Ill.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Steve Renz Cast Iron Seats
    Steve Renz with his display of items related to cast iron seats.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Tool Trays and Boxes
    This side of Steve Renz’s display showcases implement tool trays and boxes.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • Toolbox Lid
    Industrial artistry and a rich patina combine to make this toolbox lid uniquely handsome.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus

  • Jay Hankee Dairy Barn
  • Antique Mailboxes
  • Carriage Steps
  • Drew Storage Device
  • Inside Seat and Tool Display
  • Jeanine Kintigh
  • John Deere Painting
  • Lebert Baskett’s Seat Collection
  • Litter Carrier
  • Louden Construction Box
  • Louden Cupola
  • Louden hoisting singletree
  • Louden Machinery Ladder Step
  • Peerless reaper seat
  • Pierce Plough Foundry Seat
  • Steve Renz Cast Iron Seats
  • Tool Trays and Boxes
  • Toolbox Lid

When the Hay Tool Collectors’ Assn. and the Cast Iron Seat Collectors held a joint, two-day show in May, the cross-pollination was immediate. “Exchanging ideas is part of the fun,” says Barry Merenoff, an ardent hay trolley collector. “Collectors all have that special gene. There’s nothing you can do about it; it’s incurable.”

The event marked the 10th anniversary of the hay tool group, which returned to the site of its first meet at the Steve Weeber farm south of Iowa City, Iowa. For this occasion, the Cast Iron Seat Collectors were invited to join the fun. Picture-perfect spring weather accented the beautiful rural setting, allowing displays on the lawn as well as in a large shed and barn.

The joint show created a fascinating look at an era when the barn was the hub of activity on the farm. As is typical in small meets like this, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. The event was billed as a joint gathering of the cast iron seat group and the hay tool collectors, but displays strayed well beyond those lines, to the delight of some 200 visitors.

Not a lot of give in cast iron

Lebert Baskett started his farming career at the age kids today start going to school. “When I was 6,” he recalls, “my dad put me on a horse-drawn cultivator. He’d line me up with the horses on a row a half-mile long, and when I got to the end, he’d be there to turn me around. By the time I was 7 or 8, he’d turned me loose with a team of horses.”



Experience like that gives Lebert significant credibility in the area of cast iron seats, which he collected for more than 30 years. “They were rough on your butt, that’s for sure,” he says. The earliest seats were made of cast iron, he says; later pieces were made of tin. “Tin has a little give,” he allows, “but there’s not a lot of give in cast iron. After a day on a cast iron seat, a farmer probably needed a sip of white lightning.”

Lebert hauled his entire collection of 115 seats to the Iowa show from his home in Lovington, New Mexico. At 81, he’d decided it was time to dispose of the collection, and he found a ready market at the meet. “I lost money on them,” he says with a smile, “but I had a lot of fun over the years.”



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