Going ... Going... Gone!

| January 2004

Collectors and buyers alike caught a glimpse at a rare, museum-quality antique farm equipment collection in November 2003 at an auction near St. Louis, Mo. Tractors, 11 combines, and horse-drawn equipment in a variety of colors were offered by Verlan Heberer, Belleville, Ill. He's perhaps best known as a collector of all things John Deere, and held the sale to pare down his vast inventory of other lines. For Verlan, the auction meant more room in the barn, while to auction-goers, the event showcased one collector's passion for equipment in fine, original condition.

The auction-day crowd represented 15 states and at least two foreign countries. Auctioneer Mark Krausz, New Baden, Ill., said the offering's quality attracted individual and museum interest from across America and beyond.

'What we heard from so many people was, 'Where are you going to find originals like these?' Mark said. 'Almost all of these originals have always been shedded, and a lot of them Verlan got from the original owner ... things like that mean so much.

' Verlan's primary motive for the auction, Mark added, was to preserve the equipment. 'From the very beginning, when we started working on this,' Mark said, 'Verlan told me that it wasn't about the money ... he just hoped the pieces would go to somebody who appreciated them, who'd use them to educate the next generation.'

Like many farm equipment collectors, Verlan's done his part to preserve America's farming legacy. 'Verlan's done a lot to introduce antique farm machinery to a lot of people,' Mark added. 'And there are so many good people who collect these antiques. They're all collecting for good reasons, whether it's to show younger generations what farming was like years ago, or whether it's simply pride in American agriculture.'

Pieces in very good, original condition are increasingly popular. Historic accuracy is the key, but economics also play a role. Danny Norman, a collector attending the sale from Hinesville, Ga., said the cost of quality restoration work makes a low-priced piece look less attractive.