|By ANN ALLEN
CHURUBUSCO, Ind. — It took Schrader Real Estate and Auction Co. a scant six hours to sell 125 years of collectibles owned by Dave Salomon and his family but it took 12 licensed auctioneers working two, and sometimes three, rings to accomplish that feat.
With more than 1,000 items, ranging from Lionel miniatures to full-scale John Deere and Co-op farm tractors, from flintlock muzzle-loaders to snowmobiles and from hit-n-miss engines to toy cars, with semis, a variety of other trucks and some old washing machines thrown into the mix, there was something for most of the more than 1,000 registered bidders. Ritter Cox, who managed the auction, estimated the crowd at between 1,500 and 1,750.
“Considering the number of items offered, it was one of the largest sales we’ve had,” he said.
Rex Schrader amplified that by saying, “This auction had the largest variety of any auction we’ve ever had, and represented more generations than any we’ve had.”
The Salomon family liked to save things, a trait they learned from their ancestors, including patriarch Carl Salomon, who emigrated from Germany in 1881.
Carl, an employee of the Pennsylvania Railroad shop in nearby Fort Wayne, walked five miles to settle his first farm. That land has since sold and is part of an industrial complex, but the Salomon family continued to expand its holdings - and its collections.
None of them - Carl, his son, Charles; his son Carl or Dave - ever threw anything away, whether it was something they purchased new or received as gifts from their godfathers.
“We could always think of reasons to buy a particular vehicle,” Dave said.
As for keeping the vehicles, toys and spare parts, he figured they might need them some day.
As they accumulated land, known as Broad Acres Farms, they acquired more barns. By the time they eventually decided to have an auction, they’d filled four barns.
“We were fortunate in having good dry barns with wooden floors,” Dave said. “That way, nothing rusted.”
Back in 1986, when they had to move part of the collection from one barn to another, Brian Salomon, Dave’s only son, asked his grandfather what they should do with “all that stuff.”
“Hang on to it,” Carl Salomon replied, “then have an auction.”
Through the years Dave, now semi-retired, and Brian discussed just that, but the time never seemed right.
“At first we just considered selling the hit-n-miss engines and the two-cylinder tractors,” Brian said.
Now operating the family farm with equipment steered by GPS systems, he saw no reason to save horse-drawn machinery or anything else that served little function.
“Dad called me from Florida this winter to tell me he’d decided to have a sale,” he said. “He wanted to get rid of it all.”
And get rid of it they did - sometimes at staggering prices.
•A 1963 Impala Super Sport convertible with 38,372 original miles brought $60,000.
•A 1959 Impala two-door hardtop with 19,999 original miles went for $25,000.
•The oldest car, a 1925 Model-T Ford roadster, brought $7,250.
•A second Model-T, a sedan with a small engine leak, sold for $5,250.
•A 1926 Chevrolet truck went for $6,750, while a 1949 Buick Dynaflow Roadmaster went for $6,900.
•A 1965 John Deere 4020 sold for $12,100.
Buyers generally were pleased with the quality of the merchandise.
“One thing you have to say for them is they always took good care of their equipment,” a man told a friend as the two munched sandwiches.
“Most of it is top of the line,” the other man agreed.
Many of the items, such at the hit-n-miss engines, purchased at auction and restored for display at fairs and festivals, had served little practical purpose but commanded winning bids ranging from $4,750-$5,100.
Dave collected the toy pedal cars and trucks because he liked them and drove the old cars in parades and festivals. The other items just accumulated, including an old sleigh inherited from his maternal grandfather Bleke that dated to the early 1800s, and fishing lures and collectibles from church friends.
It took three weeks of hard work for Dave and his wife, Bev, assisted by son, Brian, and daughters, Leann and Julie, to get everything out of the barns and onto wagons for the sale.
“If we’d planned this a little sooner,” Brian said, “we’d have planted a field of wheat close to the buildings so we could have used the harvested land for parking.”
Instead, cars and trucks lined the roads surrounding the farm for more than a mile in four directions. Shuttle wagons transported buyers, many of them carrying umbrellas that remained unopened, in spite of ominous clouds that failed to dampen the day.
By day’s end, everything on the sale bill except a barn had sold, and one buyer was showing interest in it.
“Tonight will be the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one,” Dave Salomon observed. “It will be interesting to see what the next generation collects.”
This farm news was published in the August 23, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.