While the ground may still be too cold to start planting, it is never the wrong season to go to an estate sale in search of vintage gardening and farm collectibles. Before you do, however, keep the following tips in mind.
Antique and Vintage Seed Catalogs
The earliest seed catalogs were nothing more than lists without any fancy illustrations. Robert Prince is credited with creating the first gardening catalog for his nursery in 1771. The catalog contained information on the various trees that his nursery sold along with ordering and shipping information.
Soon, the information found in catalogs began to change. Not only could growers find information about the seeds, but they could find out how to grow them to produce the most bountiful harvest. Early copies of The American Gardener’s Calendar produced by Bernard M’Mahon in 1802 are highly collectible.
Burlap Seed and Feed Sacks
Most of the very first seeds in America were sold in tins, but the invention of the lockstitch sewing machine by Elias Howe in 1846 changed that forever. The very first burlap seed and feed sacks had the farmer’s name stamped on them. Once created, the farmer would return the sack to the producer to be filled up again many times. Very few of these sacks made during the late 1800s are still in existence. The ones that still exist are highly collectible.
Long before the start of World War II, these collectibles were made in many textile mills. If you find one on the market today, look at the tightness of the weave. Those with the tightest weave were made to transport sugar and salt, while those with a larger weave were made to transport seeds.
By 1942, an estimated three million Americans wore at least one item of clothing made from a seed or feed sack. To get farmers to buy their seeds and feeds, manufacturers took advantage of this fact by printing patterns on the sacks. The most collectible ones are those containing early Disney characters or those featuring Gone with the Wind.
There are many different types of vintage gardening tools that are highly valuable. The older the item, generally the more value it will have to collectors. Those items that are still usable have more value.
Many collectors choose to specialize in one type of gardening tool. Some opt to specialize in hand tools like pitchforks, sickles, and rakes. Others decide to specialize in implements with antique tractors often having a lot of value. Others choose to specialize in farm equipment that would have been pulled by that equipment including threshers, combines, and balers.
Vintage gardening equipment often stayed in the same family for many years being passed down from father to son. Therefore, pieces often gain value when they were associated with a particular place. Before buying a piece at an estate sale, try to find out the history of that particular item.
Prestige Estate Services
2201 Kipling Street, Suite 101
Lakewood, CO 80215