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

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