Round-Up of Stockyard Collectibles

Collectors big on stockyards memorabilia, including magazines, medals and buttons

| December 2000

  • An 1891 calendar from the Clay Robinson & Co. Livestock Commission Company
    An 1891 calendar from the Clay Robinson & Co. Livestock Commission Company. Pieces such as these are highly sought by collectors of stockyard memorabilia. "It's really kind of exploded," says Mitchell McKay, owner of this piece. "At an auction last week, I expected one or two bidders on a couple of the items there, but there were five."
  • A button, medal and watchfob promoting stockyards and livestock shows.
    Top right: Collectible button from the Union Stockyards in St. Paul. Near right: Herdsman's medal from the 1940 International Livestock Show; from the collection of Jim Butler, Trenton, Texas. Bottom: Evans Snider and Buel Co. watchfob; from the collection of Mitchell Kay.
  • Collectible button from Strahorn Hutton Evans Commission company. And Gene Salmans, a memorabilia collector.
    Top: Collectible button from Strahorn Hutton Evans Commission company. Most stockyards memorabilia of interest to collectors predates 1940. The rarest pieces date as far back as the 1870s. From the collection of Mitchell McKay. Right: Gene Salmans, a buyer at the St. Joseph, Mo., stockyards, collects memorabilia like the tins shown behind him. Stockyards items are numerous, but some are difficult to obtain, and their values are increasing.
  • Bullet pencil from the John Clay & Co. livestock commission company
    Bullet pencil from the John Clay & Co. livestock commission company; from the collection of Mitchell McKay.

  • An 1891 calendar from the Clay Robinson & Co. Livestock Commission Company
  • A button, medal and watchfob promoting stockyards and livestock shows.
  • Collectible button from Strahorn Hutton Evans Commission company. And Gene Salmans, a memorabilia collector.
  • Bullet pencil from the John Clay & Co. livestock commission company

For many decades after the late 1800s, stockyards – from smaller ones to huge central terminals, drew livestock from hundreds of miles. Cattle, hogs and sheep were sometimes driven on foot, but more often loaded on rail cars and later brought by trucks.

As an example, the large Omaha stockyards, recently razed, received livestock from at least seven states. The yards had their own rail line, and the pens stretched for many city blocks. Today, there's growing interest in stockyards collectibles, many of them issued by commission firms and other advertisers. A collector's club and newsletter promote that interest, specializing in stockyards and Western memorabilia. "Things like bullet pencils (pull-apart models that look like cartridges) are getting pretty scarce, but they can still be found," says Vernie McCoy, a former buyer at the Omaha stockyards. Other collectibles include medals, medallions and knives. Collector Jack Preston, Lyman, Neb., says he especially likes paper stockyards collectibles such as calendars, seller's ledgers and newspaper advertisements and photos. Jack's interest is rooted in family ties: his grandparents shipped cattle to the Omaha market. He tracks the vintage pieces with state-of-the-art technology.

"I keep my collectibles indexed by commission company on a laptop computer I carry with me on buying trips," Jack says. "I especially value a jigsaw puzzle owned by my grandmother that was issued by the Bowles Livestock Commission Co." He also has letterhead stationary, advertising cards, a clothes brush, sales tickets and a paper ax.

Ed Czerwien, who heads the St. Joseph (Mo.) Stockyards, says bound copies of the Stockyards Journal are valuable enough to be kept in a locked vault. Some editions are more than 100 years old, detailing stockyards activities and those of large packers such as Swift and Armour.



Gene Salmans, a hog buyer at the St. Joseph yards, is surrounded in his office by old lard cans and tins, many rare and valuable.

"We're seeing more interest in stockyards collectibles all the time," Gene says.



SUBSCRIBE TO FARM COLLECTOR TODAY!

Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.




Facebook Pinterest YouTube

Classifieds