Old items good as new on the auction block

Fund-raiser: The Antique Farm Machinery Club puts items up for bid in Howard to raise money for a museum.

April 13, 2003|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,SUN STAFF

Sherry Carroll of West Friendship had to have a 4-foot-tall brown rabbit carved out of a log.

She saw it Friday at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship as the Howard County Antique Farm Machinery Club was preparing for its annual fund-raising auction.

Yesterday morning, she was standing near the item until it came up for bid.

But because the event is a chance for people to sell an expansive variety of items, she had to wait as auctioneer Randy Ridgely offered up tools, garden implements and hardware.

"We've got 250 feet of good chain there," Ridgely called, rhythmically spilling out a barrage of numbers until he got the bid up to $6.

Then he sold wrenches, a sander, a bucket of bolts and nails, a beat-up watering can, several sledgehammers, rusted shovels, rakes, glass doors and two old milk cans.

About 40 feet away, another auctioneer was working his way down a row of similarly random items, like barbed- wire fencing, electrical cords, ropes, small motors and dusty horse tack.

Smaller items went for a few dollars up to around $100.

Larger items waited for the afternoon bidding: furniture, small boats, more than 50 lawn mowers, rows of trucks, cars and trailers, about two dozen tractors and one 1931 Ford that eventually sold for $12,500.

There was even the proverbial kitchen sink: an industrial model.

"We've got an assortment of everything, and it's finding new homes" said Brice Ridgely, a West Friendship farmer and club founder.

"Consignment sales are kind of interesting," said John Frank, president of the Antique Farm Machinery Club. "Just about anyone has something in their garage or behind their house."

The sale works on the assumption that someone else wants those items.

Since many members of the club enjoy sales and auctions, holding one of their own seemed like a natural idea, Frank said.

The club began the auction eight years ago on Brice Ridgely's West Friendship farm and moved to the fairgrounds a few years later.

A worthy cause

The club takes 10 percent to 25 percent of the proceeds from every item, keeping a smaller portion from the more-expensive items.

It does not charge buyers a premium, as many auctions do, but it does raise additional money through concessions.

The club's profit has ranged over the years from about $50,000 to more than $160,000, depending on the crowd and the quality of the items. The group is working toward building a farm museum in Howard County.

Some of the customers spent the day seeking a good price on a specific item.

Ghassan Neshawat, who farms organic crops near Glenwood, was able to get a used tractor for $3,600. He was also looking for a field-sized rake to pull with the tractor.

Dave Walker, a maintenance worker at the Friends School, got tables, a workbench and a wheelbarrow. But he ended up buying his own tractor back, because he wasn't going to get as much money as he wanted for it.

Usually, the tractor sales are profitable, said Walker, of West Friendship. "Most of the guys here know what it costs new," he said. "The fact that it is old is irrelevant; it still works."

Other people were browsers.

Darrel Healy, 10, of Pasadena had his eyes on four-wheeled vehicles and a dirt bike.

As he sat on a wooden fence with family friend Tim Bull of Glen Burnie, he admitted he did not have the money for those things, but said his grandfather, Bob Brewis, did.

Brewis has taken Darrel and his brother to other sales, buying them toys, board games and a remote-controlled truck.

Looking for `anything'

Yesterday, Brewis was looking for "anything I can use," particularly in his business of moving houses.

Still some customers are die-hard auction shoppers, like Kerry Kelpy, who lives near Monrovia.

"I'm addicted," said the retired Montgomery County teacher. "Everyone thinks I should be in a support group."

Kelpy estimates he goes to three or four sales a week, looking for country collectibles and sports memorabilia as well as items that he can resell.

Yesterday, he had his heart set on one of the pieces of carved art: a nearly 5-foot-tall very round chicken sitting on a stump.

"I hope nobody is in love with that big chicken," he said. "My yard is just begging for it."

He lost the chicken, but his sister and her friend were able to get two baseball bats (and a rusty red wagon thrown into the deal) for $5 while Kelpy looked at a vanity.

Carroll was happy to enjoy the spectacle until they got to the carving she wanted.

"I don't even know what some of this stuff is," the Howard County school bus driver said.

When it was her turn to act, she was successful, taking home the rabbit - which she plans to put beside her fireplace - for $85 and a carved Santa Claus head for $32.

Next she was going to look for a tractor with a front-end loader, although she expected most would be too expensive.

"I have a lot of sheds full of junk. I think I'll bring it up next year," she said.

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