The True Value of Collecting Old Farm Implements

Farm implements and tools provide great collecting alternative to old tractors.

| September 2014

Here in the U.K., vintage tractors are big business. Whilst it’s great that our old tractors have value, it also means some collectors are priced out of the market. Other rural artifacts, often older and more rare, are frequently overlooked.

No one in their right mind would scrap a working tractor from the 1950s, but plenty of people would scrap an old piece of barn machinery from the 1850s. One day we might well look around and realise that there aren’t many old swede (root) choppers or chaff cutters left and wonder why.

In the U.K. I don’t think we value these implements and tools as much as we should. Welshman Paul Jones knows that the real value of these barn machines, farm implements and tools is in the stories that they tell, not the sum they sell for at auction. This makes for a refreshing change, as one could argue that the vintage tractor scene has become rather, er, how do I put it, commercial, these days.

Paul’s collection begins with wooden horse-drawn ploughs and works its way forward, through the age of cast iron horse-drawn implements, and ends with a Grey Fergie. Interestingly, Paul chooses to end his collection right at the point where mechanization truly became widely available.

These horse-drawn implements and hand-powered barn machines hark back to a simpler, quieter time. They are also beautiful items in their own right. These often ornately crafted implements remind us of a time when Britain was a hive of ironworking activity, producing frameworks for landmark buildings and bridges worldwide. On a more local level, blacksmiths and small foundries were busy feeding our nation’s need for sturdy tools and early machines. The Industrial Revolution couldn’t have happened without iron and coal, and the arrival of cast and wrought iron implements on farms marked the beginning of agriculture’s own revolution.

The early seed drill

If there’s one type of implement that really fascinates Paul, it’s the seed drill. He admits that his collection of seven drills (each slightly different) made by Welsh companies such as John Williams of Rhuddlan, Corbett Williams and Corbett & Son make him something of a seed drill addict. Perhaps so, but they also serve as solid reminders of the history and development of these closely linked, long gone Welsh companies.