Hay Carrier and Hay Tool Collectors Meet for Annual Show

Hay carriers and hay tools star at annual North American Hay Tool Collectors Assn show in Ohio

| October 2011

Hay tool collectors search high and low to find their pride and joy. High in the peaks of old barns, many of these priceless jewels hide for decades, but since most have been indoors for their entire lives, hay carriers remain in reasonably good condition. Low at barn floor level are carefully designed wooden and metal rope pulleys. Today, many old barns are in a perpetual state of disrepair, and going after those hay carriers can be dangerous work. Collectors need a buddy to help hold the rope, a lightweight 40-foot extension ladder, a battery-powered cutoff saw and nerves of steel: Climbing a good ladder propped tightly against the roof of a barn near the hay trolley takes a lot of nerve.          

Most hay tools, though, are not found in barns, although some of the best carriers come from there. Collectors continually look to farm auctions, antique shops, flea markets and fellow enthusiasts for hay tools. They collect anything and everything related to putting up loose hay: hand and wood rakes, hay carriers, hayforks, hay pulleys, rope, track and all the hardware to hold it in place.

Members of the North American Hay Tool Collectors Assn. (NAHTCA) held their sixth annual show in April at the Ashland County Fairgrounds in Ashland, Ohio. Those attending were treated to a wonderful display of some one-of-a-kind hay carriers and hayforks. One example was Jim Gray’s new old stock (NOS) hay knife with the Ney name intact. A separate label identified it as the Blue Grass from the Belknap Hardware Co., Louisville, Ky.

Show feature: Ney Mfg. Co.

Ney hay tools were the show’s featured line. Ney had an unusual history. Two manufacturers were making hay tools in Canton, Ohio, by the early 1880s. Jacob Ney’s little carrier came out first. Soon after, V.L. Ney brought out a hay carrier. The result was a lawsuit. It is unclear who won the lawsuit or even if the two Neys were related. However, soon after filing the lawsuit, one company emerged to form Ney Mfg. Co.

Ney produced a complete line of barn items including hay carriers, hay carrier steel track and all the attaching hardware items, hayforks and pulleys, hay slings and attachments, merchandise carriers, Canton hoists, wire stretchers, hay knives, lawn mowers, automatic lawn rakes, barn door hangers and rails, and other hardware. In Ney catalog No. 19, the company lists hay carriers from No. 10 to No. 140. The company also manufactured hay carriers labeled with the names of their vendors, notably Bluegrass (Belknap Hardware, Louisville, Ky.) and Superior (Superior Drill Co., Springfield, Ohio).

Westward migration

Hay carriers were first patented in 1867 in New York. Manufacturing then moved progressively westward to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. There were as many different designs as there were designers. Some carriers worked well; some did not. The least effective soon disappeared from the marketplace. Consequently, these are among the most rare and most sought-after by collectors.

4/11/2013 11:15:42 PM

Hello ~ As a founding member of my local historical society, I am obviously extremely interested in seeing that any item of interest from our past be saved and preserved. That being said, a number of us are trying to remove any items we find from a local farm that, unfortunately is soon to be the object of a fire dept. drill. In searching around the barn we came upon some items that I have since learned are 'hay slings' and I would like to find someone or someplace that might be interested in them. Can you help me? I live in Nebraska. Please feel free to e-mail me @ annsaarela@yahoo.com. Thank you ~ Ann


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