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News Article  
Dairy collectibles milked bidders'' pocketbooks
By Eric C. Rodenberg

NEAPOLIS, Ohio – On March 8-9, the dairy, farm and advertising collectors from the tri-state region of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana were out in full force – easily supporting assertions of a growing niche of buyers – at Whalen Realty & Auction’s March auction at their northern Ohio facility.

Some of the bombshell prices were the $1,900 paid for an “American Hand Corn Sheller,” with original stand and stenciling; a scrap book album filled with farm-related (particularly early dairy) advertisements, pamphlets and manuals sold for $1,025; a De Laval cream separator cabinet, measuring 26 inches tall and 17 Ύ inches wide, complete with tin insert and accessories brought $600; a rare and unique foot-powered milking machine, manufactured by WM. M Mehrings, from brass and cast iron sold for $650; and two Pine Tree Dairy bottles, a quart and a half pint, from Delta, Ohio, sold for $200.

“Farm material – and that includes advertising, almost any type manuals or paperwork – all that has really gone up in price,” Auctioneer Jason Whalen said. “The dairy market continues to be strong.”

Other dairy cream separator and McCormick-Deering advertising binders sold from $220-$1,200.

What made the auction particularly alluring to collectors is that the bulk of the collection was amassed in the 1950s and 1960s by the original collector Tom Mitchell, Sr., who owned the farm implement store Allis-Chalmers Mitchell in nearby Liberty Center. During the past 50 years, the number of implement stores and dairy farms in Michigan have drastically decreased.

When Mitchell died in 1997, his wife stored the items. Whalen had known Mitchell a long time.

“He was a great guy,” Whalen recalls. “I met him in 1983 or 1984. I was a kid, just eight years old. And he had this Allis-Chalmers tractor, a toy model, maybe one-sixteenth scale. He had $30 or something like that on it. That was a lot of money, But he set me up with elderly lady, and would mow her grass for $8 a week. Every Friday, I would go over and pay Tom $5 or $7 down on my tractor. I got that tractor. He never forgot that.”

All quoted prices are hammer prices. Whalen Realty & Auction does not charge a buyer’s premium. A portion of the listed with the HiBid Auctions’ live bidding platform; however, most of the sales were in-house, according to a company spokesman.

More than 120 bidders were registered for the two-day auction, which saw Whalen Auction’s staff run through nearly 700 dairy lots, in addition to several un-lotted boxes and items.

“We thought, particularly for such a specialty sale, that attendance was really good,” Whalen said. “And, dairy collectors came to buy … that’s part of the industry that keeps seeing higher prices. A couple of local bottles sold really strongly, and the signs did well.”

Among the more than 230 milk bottles sold, including two one-quart bottles, and a half-pint from the Ernsthausen Dairy in Pemberville, Ohio, complete with company calendar – all encased in a wooden display box – brought $500. An Anderson Quality Feeds lighted clock sold for $225.

Primitives also did well at the sale, with a Big 3 Washer — a hand-crank washing machine — selling for $200; a shaker-style hand-crank butter churn brought $125; a Mail Pouch tobacco thermometer, measuring 39 inches by 8 ½ inches, brought $150; and a wooden keg from the Buckeye Brewing Co. of Toledo, Ohio sold for $200.

Vintage signage was a hot item at the Whalen sale. An embossed International Harvester McCormick Dairy Equipment Sign sold for $1,200; a Frauths Milk light sign brought $400; and a Diamond Crystal Champions Choiced sign with a thermometer brought $500.

Whalen Auction’s next sale will be at their auction facility in Neapolis on April 5, featuring hundreds of marbles from a late collector, pocket watches and parts, coins and farm toys.

Contact: (419) 875-6317