Old is good as new at Howard auction

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 a 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.

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

Smaller items went for a few dollars up to around $100. Larger items-- such as furniture, small boats, lawn mowers, vehicles and tractors-- were placed on the block for afternoon bidding. One item, a 1931 Ford, sold for $12,500. There was even the proverbial kitchen sink: an industrial model.

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

The club takes 10 percent to 25 percent of the proceeds from every item, keeping a smaller portion from the more expensive items. They do not charge buyers a premium, as many auctions do, but they do 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.

Dave Walker, a maintenance worker, got tables, a workbench and a wheelbarrow. But he ended up buying back his own tractor 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.

Some customers were die-hard auction shoppers, like Kerry Kelpy, who lives near Monrovia.

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

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

When it was her turn to act, she successfully bud $85 for the piece. And she took her rabbit home.

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