|By Eric C. Rodenberg
KENDALLVILLE, Ind. – It was a cold northern Indiana day – slate blue skies and the scrunch of snow beneath the boot – but what Auctioneer Michael Strawser called “a very brisk day,” didn’t seem to cool down the ardor of the 175 registered bidders at the auction of the estate (and lifelong tractor collection) of Bob Conrad.
Conrad, a member of the Noble County Gas and Steam Club and other tractor collecting organizations, died four years ago at the age of 69. A retired machinist, Conrad enjoyed drag racing and restoring cars and tractors.
He was a hard worker all his life, and particularly skilled at recruiting family members for his projects. An ongoing project, his “Old Kushman” sold as parts on a pallet for $475.
All quoted prices from Strawser’s Nov. 10 sale of Conrad’s estate are hammer prices. The company does not charge a buyer’s premium for such sales.
Throughout his lifetime, Conrad had accumulated enough tractors, farm toys, antiques and vehicle parts to keep two rings running all day. Helping Strawser was Auctioneer Ron Levitz.
Leading the pack of tractors for sale was a 1965 Farmall 656 that brought $4,900 after spirited bidding among the predominately Hoosier bidders. Kendallville is relatively near to the Indiana-Michigan state line, being 85 miles directly south from Battle Creek, Mich.
A 1957 Farmnall 450, restored with a narrow front set of wheels, sold for $4,100; a sweet 1946 Farmall “B” tractor brought $2,700; and a 1951 Farmall “M” sold for $2,800.
A 1948 John Deere “A” with a narrow front sold, renowned for its vintage rhythmic hit and miss, for $3,200.
Amidst the serious tractor sales, a 1974 Volkswagen “rat rod” sold for $3,200. One of Conrad’s pleasures was watching his grandsons race go-karts.
Antique hand-cranked corn shellers ran the gamut in prices, a very nice restored model brought $200; another settled at $130; and a model in rough condition brought $35.
A 1933 International 1-ton flatbed truck, a restored vehicle which Conrad proudly displayed at the National Auto and Track Museum in Auburn, Ind., failed to meet the undisclosed buyer’s premium, according to Strawser. The auctioneer said he is talking with two persons interested in buying the truck; however, no deal had been consummated at press time.
A large collection of farm toys, including vintage items Tonka trucks, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers’ collections, and some Marx and Milton Bradley items, was received well by collectors, according to Strawser.
Strawser Auctions is currently gearing up for the Dec. 8 sale of antiques related to history of shoemaking, collected for more than 40 years by Cliff Pequet of Shipshewana, Ind., one of only 25 remaining cordwainers in the country.
Pequet, who worked at his shop – The Sign of the Boot Leather Shop at the Center for Traditional Arts – will be selling the contents of his home, business and shop.
Pequet studied at Cordwainers’ College in London and visited leather shops throughout England and, upon returning to the country began making high-quality hand-stitched leather shoes and boots. In addition to providing the handmade period-authentic boots for Mel Gibson’s 2000 Hollywood movie The Patriot, Pequet has made boots and leather goods for museums and re-enactors.
Pequet’s shop in Shipshewana was “more like a museum than a store,” according to Strawser. Beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 8, the auction company plans on running three rings all day.
Contact: (260) 854-2859