Dean Collection Sold at Auction

By Staff
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Merv Hilpipre, left, of Cedar Falls, Iowa conducted the Dean auction at a breakneck pace averaging about 200 items per hour!
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Unrestored steamers on the Dean farm on auction day.
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Unrestored steamers on the Dean farm on auction day.
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Unrestored engine awaits removal from the beautiful Dean farm.

Part of the steam lineup at the auction of the late Robert
Dean’s collection held Thursday, August 2, 1984 in Centerville,
Maryland. In approximately six hours time, Merv Hilpipre auctioned
off about 1200 items, which had been collected over a period of
nearly 20 years.

The farm of the late Bob Dean near Centerville, Maryland, drew
hundreds of bidders and seperators last August as his outstanding
collection of big engines and smaller pieces of equipment went up
at auction.

Holding of the sale proceeded as the former Maryland state
senator had planned. He had given full instructions to his wife,
Miriam, on how the sale was to be arranged and held. He included
instructions on media in which to advertise (including
IMA and GEM). A conservationist,
he told her to sell the machinery but to keep the land.

Editor Gerry Lestz speaks with Mrs. Dean under an umbrella on
her farm in Centerville, the day of the auction which drew over 800
people from all over the East coast.

She followed his recommendations, and as we sat and interviewed
her the day of the sale, she reminisced on his career and his
collecting. The first piece he bought was an old stationary Erie
engine from a cannery near their home. By the time of his death 19
years later, he owned many traction engines, stationary engines,
marine engines, saw mills, a stone crusher, walking plows, pulleys,
belts and innumerable other items.

For details on prices obtained at the auction, see adjoining
story, with information from Merv E. Hilpipre, whose firm conducted
the sale.

Bob Dean might have become a sea captain, but preferred to
settle down on a land-locked farm in Maryland. He and his wife were
charter members of the Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association, whose
annual show is held near Easton, Maryland.

Now Mrs. Dean is one of the organizers of a group to set up a
museum for St. Anne’s County, in which the home is located. Joe
Jackson is chairman of the committee, and says the aim is to
collect all items indigenous to the county, farm and maritime. A
blacksmith shop bought by Dean some years ago, with all its tools,
is to be part of the museum. Mrs. Dean said that Arthur Hough-ton,
formerly owner of Steuben Glass, is very interested in the project.
He lives ten miles away.

Dean grew up on a farm near Ridgely, Maryland, then attended
Washington College in Chestertown and graduated in 1931. He went to
sea with the Isthmanian Steamship Co., stayed 9 years, and won his
master’s license. He could have served as ‘master of any
ship on any sea in the world,’ Mrs. Dean recalled, but
preferred to come back to the soil in Maryland. The couple was
married in 1940 and settled on the property they called Anchor
Rest, with a homestead site that is handsome.

Dean was elected state senator from Queen Anne’s in 1945,
and was in office 16 years. The collection of engines and other
equipment started small, but by 1970 he was attending a sale every
Saturday. He would come home telling Mrs. Dean, ‘I’ve
brought you another load of goodies,’ and on Sunday they would
spend the day unloading.

Sign at right reads: ‘This is a Frick portable steam engine.
Next to the smallest engine the Frick Company made, it was built
about 1915 at Waynesboro, Pa. The engine came from the Roanoke,
Virginia area and I restored it during 1971-72, a job requiring
many hours and much patience. It has a 5-inch diameter piston with
an 8 inch stroke and is commonly designated as a 5 x 810 horsepower
engine. The boiler has 26 2-inch flues and these were renewed April
1972 at a cost of $300.00. The engine was used for small jobs on
farms such as powering small threshing machines, earring and
shelling corn, baling hay and grinding feed. It was also used in
industrial plants for powering small machine and related work.
Owner Robert P. Dean, Centerville, MD.’

This part of the crowd was gathered as Merv Hilpipre auctioned a
Corliss engine. The engine was said to have all of its parts though
disassembled. It brought a price of about $300.00.

Although he could not run steam engines, he loved to ride on
them, and men of the neighborhood would assist. He enjoyed life,
and the engines, and Tuckahoe, and was on the way to put a sawmill
in the woods when he suffered a fatal attack. He was 74.

‘He wanted to die on this farm,’ his wife related.
‘He told me, many times, sell the equipment, because people
enjoy the engines, but you keep the land.’

And the land is for the couple’s daughter, Bonnie Roschy,
who was at the sale. Bonnie teaches middle school in Havre de
Grace. Her husband John is principal of Prospect Mill elementary
school in Bel Air. They have two children, Dean, 16, and Anne,

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