By Karin Milliman
SHIPSHEWANA, Ind. — “Yup. Yup. Yup. YO.” The excitement and the sounds reverberated throughout the building as the price kept climbing higher and higher on a vintage corn sheller. This particular item was described prior to bidding as rare, and in excellent condition. The plunger-style sheller still retained original paint and the wooden piece stood an impressive 36-inches tall. The crowd sat and waited to see where it would all end as the bidding stalled. “I want you to buy it because I want to sell it again someday for you,” joked auctioneer Lyle Chupp. “I’m going to stop right here and take some time,” he announced.
This piece was being sold in the center of the auction as per the request of the owner, Allan Aves. “If you bid again, I’ll carry it to your truck and add a blanket for you to protect it on the way home. I’ll even add a free meal,” joked Chupp. And so, the bidding commenced again and the item sold for an impressive $6,300.
Aves worked at DeKalb for most of his life and became a collector of DeKalb memorabilia. He amassed a vast collection of unusual pieces over the years and commissioned Chupp Auctions & Real Estate LLC out of Shipshewana, Ind., to help him dispose of his prized pieces.
Running a close second in price to the vintage corn shell was a totally different kind of corn sheller. This one was a small T-handled, hand-held cast iron piece. It was embossed Houseman, patent Feb. 11, 1868. With an opening bid of $1,000, the bidding rose rapidly in $100 increments. The hammer didn’t come down on this piece until it reached an amazing $6,100 in price.
Manufactured by W. Black, a cast iron three-hole corn sheller was the earliest corn sheller patent known. The variety of holes offered the opportunity to pick the correct size hole for the ear of corn that was being shelled, making the job easier and more efficient. Even though the end by the mounting holes in the wood were busted on this sheller, it still sold for $3,250.
Another cast iron piece almost matched this bid. It was a table or bench mount Victory Tool sweet corn stripper. This hand crank piece was made in Montreal, Canada and had no cracks or breaks. It was described as in good condition and sold for a high bid of $3,100.
Bringing the same $3,100 price, a cast iron tong-type hand corn sheller gained its fair share of interest.
A cast iron hand corn scrubber was another unusual piece offered at this auction. This one was also in good condition and looked almost like a rather large cheese grater mounted on wood. It brought a high bid of $1,600 and sold to a phone bidder.
Smaller didn’t necessarily mean cheaper. An early cast iron folding hand popcorn sheller that was small enough to hold in one hand also crossed the block. This one looked to be made by a blacksmith who had used square nails — which helped to pinpoint the age on this one. Since it was handmade, it was one-of-a-kind and the leather straps were still intact. The final bid price on this small sheller was pretty high as the hammer came down on $1,700.
Manufactured by John Jordan and patented June 29, 1869, an embossed corn sheller drummed up some interest. This one was cast iron also, but what made it so desirable was that it had four different size holes to run the corn through. It took a high bid of $1,800.
An unusual hand popcorn sheller that had been painted blue rose to $2,900 before it was pronounced sold.
A primitive homemade scrubber-type corn sheller made of wood also crossed the block. It measured 24-inches high and could be used sitting down. This one brought a high bid of $1,000, showing that all the corn shellers did not have to be name brands to drive up the price.
A corn tipper/butter made of aluminum came up for bid and was described as looking much like a miniature bathtub. This piece was made by A.E. Olson and could be held with one hand. It really didn’t look that impressive, but the price it brought certainly was. The final price on this vintage, lightweight piece was an impressive $2,900.
The signs offered up from Aves’ collection were many. A DeKalb Chix sign that showed a chick and a flying ear of corn and was mounted for display in a metal frame; this piece measured 49 by 61-inches and the colors were still brilliant. The reds and yellows really made this sign stand out.
It was considered to be in good condition and brought a final bid price of $2,300.
Another sign that measured 22 by 28-inches made of paper crossed the block; the DeKalb Chix poster depicted a chicken and two baskets of eggs. Showcased in a newer frame, it was in great condition. The opening bid was only $475, but it took a final bid of $2,500 by a phone bidder.
There was a large selection of license plate toppers for sale which drew large prices. A Durocs Hogs tin license plate topper that depicted a large red boar sold for $700. A Polled Shorthorns tin license plate topper with a cow head and bright blue paint on a white background sold for $550.
Sold as a pair, a Hereford pig and a Holstein cow aluminum license plate topper were both in fair condition and brought $650.
It seemed that everyone wanted in on the bidding when a license plate topper made by Scioto Sign company was held up. This embossed tin piece said, “Carlson’s Champion Hybrids” in bright yellow across a dark blue background. The final bid on this piece was $1,000.
Chupp Auctions & Real Estates LLC conducted this DeKalb auction. They can be reached at (574) 536-8005. Contact Chupp for all your auction needs and follow their advertisements in The Auction Exchange & Collectors News.