Best Cast Iron Seats in the House

Cast iron seats, toolboxes and more find a home in this Iowa collection

| April 2012

  • Round Cast Iron Seats
    Tom with a selection of round seats from his collection, which numbers more than 370 cast iron seats. Round seats are increasingly rare.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Cast Iron Iowa Seat
    This cast iron Iowa seat was one of Tom’s dad’s most prized possessions.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Deere And Co. Seat
    Top: A Deere & Co. seat, probably from a plow, and a Dain’s vertical lift mower lid. Bottom: A Moline mower lid, and a pair of Deere & Mansur Co. corn planter seats.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Cast Iron Seats
    Note the close similarity between these two cast iron seats.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Black Hawk Corn Planter
    Rare items from a Black Hawk corn planter.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Moline Horsedrawn Mower Lid
    Clockwise from top left: A Moline horse-drawn mower lid; a Geo. W. Brown & Co. planter marker; a McCormick 1-horse mower lid; a Dain Mfg. Co. vertical lift mower lid; a Morrison cast iron toolbox; and a Sattley’s New Way planter lid.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • George W. Brown Dropper Seat
    George W. Brown cast iron “dropper” seat (left) and planter marker.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Davenport Plow Co. Footrest
    Top: Barnes and Black Hawk toolboxes. Center: A Browne sulky footrest and Pekin Plow Co. footrest. Bottom: A Davenport Plow Co. footrest, a Deere buggy step (with brass inset) and a Gilpin plow footrest.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Excelsior Seat
    Top: An Excelsior seat, a Payne’s sulky plow footrest and a Deere & Mansur Co. planter seat. Center: A Boyd’s Positive Covering corn planter lid, a Deere & Mansur Co. drag used as a drill marker, a Syracuse Chilled Plow Co. seat and a Dain Mfg. Co. horse-drawn mower lid. Bottom: A seat from Williams Mower and Reaper Co., the “big nose” version of a Deere & Mansur planter lid and a Louden Machinery Co. hay carrier.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Deere Cutout Toolbox
    Top: A Deere cutout toolbox and a cast iron toolbox patented in 1878. Second row: A Favorite planter lid, Granite State cast iron toolbox and “Corn Planter” planter lid. Third row: A Browne gang seat and, featuring unusual lettering, a Champion Common Sense Engine Co. corn planter seat. Fourth row: A J.I. Case F.F. planter lid, a Black Hawk corn planter seat and a Janney Mfg. Co. planter lid. Bottom row: A Thompson (Beloit, Wis.) planter box with cast iron lid, a Grand Detour Plow Works footrest and an 1870 Vandiver Corn Planter Co. corn planter seat. 
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • St. Paul Plow Works Seat
    Tom was on a mission to get this St. Paul Plow Works seat when he happened onto an extremely rare Black Hawk toolbox.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Morrison Mfg. Co. Seat
    Tom’s collections are not limited to cast iron seats. Top: A rare Morrison Mfg. Co. seat, a yellow Kewanee planter lid, a Buford toolbox and a Peerless reaper seat. Bottom: A red Farmer’s Friend Mfg. Co. planter seat, a Geo. W. Brown & Co. planter seat, a Galt rotary planter seat, and yellow and red Springfield Mfg. Co. seats.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Hog Oiler
    This Wilson & Son (no relation) hog oiler sports a handsome restoration. 
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Corkscrew Hay Fork
    A corkscrew hayfork.
    Photo by Melissa Jost
  • Peerless Reaper Co. Seat
    A Peerless Reaper Co. seat, which has special meaning to Tom, as he bought it for his father during his father’s last days.
    Photo by Melissa Jost

  • Round Cast Iron Seats
  • Cast Iron Iowa Seat
  • Deere And Co. Seat
  • Cast Iron Seats
  • Black Hawk Corn Planter
  • Moline Horsedrawn Mower Lid
  • George W. Brown Dropper Seat
  • Davenport Plow Co. Footrest
  • Excelsior Seat
  • Deere Cutout Toolbox
  • St. Paul Plow Works Seat
  • Morrison Mfg. Co. Seat
  • Hog Oiler
  • Corkscrew Hay Fork
  • Peerless Reaper Co. Seat

After being whopped across the back of the head with reins for forgetting his job on the corn planter, no daydreaming youth in 1860 would have dreamed his dropper seat would one day be a collector’s item. But 150 years later, Tom Wilson, Blue Grass, Iowa, knows all about those seats. He has a keen appreciation for their role in the history of American agriculture – so keen that he displays his favorites in his home, where he is constantly reminded of their significance.

“Following the invention of the corn planter by George W. Brown in 1852, a cutter sleigh was driven back and forth across the field to make cross-hatched lines as a guide,” Tom explains. “The corn planter came next. A kid sat on a ‘dropper’ seat behind the horses; his father was in a seat behind him. When the corn planter passed a line, the kid shoved a shaker handle back and forth, dropping seeds into the soil. Any time the kid wasn’t paying attention, he’d get hit by the tail of the horse, or the reins by his father.”

Original corn planter dropper seats were made of wood. “Those round wood seats are pretty hard to find,” he says, “and hard to reproduce because of the detailed stenciling.” Tom saw a beautiful Deere & Mansur Co. round wood seat at a recent auction. “I have the same seat in poor condition, so I thought this one would be nice to have,” he says, “until it went for $5,000.”

Implements, not tractors

Cast iron seats, first used in about 1850, are a more accessible alternative for most collectors. While many people refer to cast iron seats as “tractor seats,” very few actually came from tractors. “Most cast iron seats come from antique farm equipment from about 1860-1900,” Tom says, “from corn planters, binders, tedders, reapers and so on.”



President of the 400-member Cast Iron Seat Collectors Association (CISCA), Tom explains that serious collectors prefer cast iron seats because they’re legitimate, valuable antiques. “If you’re going to put out money for this stuff, you hope it holds its value,” Tom says. “Pressed-steel seats don’t bring a lot of money.”

Family favorites

Tom’s favorite seats include several that belonged to his father, Terry, who died in 2006. One of those is a red Morrison Mfg. Co. seat. Rated a 10 (see For Cast Iron Seat Collectors, Friedly Book Is the Bible), it is the most expensive seat Terry bought. It has the added attraction of coming from Iowa, Tom says: Morrison was based in Fort Madison, Iowa.

McLeanAuctions
8/6/2015 11:43:31 PM

We are having an Online timed auction of 50 plus cast iron seats, plus drill ends, hay cars, etc starting August 14 and closing August 18 at 7pm at www.mcleanauctions.com