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Antique Corn Collectibles at The Barns

Iowa farmer builds museum of corn collectibles.

| October 2014

  • JR Pearson's Marselles Cyclone Sheller was built about 114 years ago.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • An Appleton corn slicer built in Batavia, Ill.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • A handsomely restored John Deere 2-hole corn sheller.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • An automatic corn harvester, built by Superior Hay Stacker Co., was an early effort to automate the work of harvest.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • This corn crusher, built by J.S. Bloom, was part of an early effort to introduce efficiency into the never-ending process of creating livestock feed.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • Detail of original paint on the J.S. Bloom corn crusher.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen
  • A McCormick corn binder dating to about 1920.
    Photo by Loretta Sorensen

In the heart of America’s corn country — Marcus, Iowa — JR Pearson is amassing a collection of vintage horse-drawn and rare corn equipment at his museum known as The Barns.

JR, who raised corn on his own farm for more than 40 years, has collected and restored several John Deere corn shellers, a J.S. Bloom corn crusher, McCormick-Deering corn binder, Superior Hay Stacker Co. corn harvester and much, much more.

“It wasn’t something I set out to do,” JR says. “These are pieces I came across either at auctions or found through Internet searches. Sometimes people have a piece of equipment that’s rare but they don’t have any use for it. If they know about the museum and want to see it be preserved, they often donate it.”

Creating a home for corn collectibles

One of the donated pieces JR recently added to his collection is a John Deere 4-hole corn sheller that Alan Sorensen and his father, Walter, used on their Yankton, South Dakota, farm for at least 10 years. The Sorensens paid $60 for the sheller at an auction and used it to shell corn for their horses. When the sheller broke down, the Sorensens were unsure how to repair it and parked it behind their machine shed.

“The sheller is a perfect addition to the models I already have in the museum,” JR says. “This one was probably made in the early 1900s and is a good representation of shellers from that period.”

The first thing JR did when he brought the sheller home was to determine what it would take to repair it. “I started at the top of the machine and went through it all,” JR says. “I put in all new chain guides and a new auger. The metal covering on the bottom was rotted out so I replaced all that. Then I sandblasted it and applied three coats of paint.”


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