Dibbers, seed fiddles, flails and chaff cutters are items you may never have heard of but to many collectors of antique farm tools they are things of their dreams.
Antique Farm Tools
Farm tools date back to the times of the Egyptians, Incas and other ancient peoples when spades, hoes and winnowing scoops were made of wood and stone or bone and sickle blades were made of flint. Through the centuries the history of farming and farm tools evolved throughout the entire world.
Naturally it is not these ancient tools that fill the walls and boxes of tool collectors. Most farm tool collectors focus on tools from the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century. Many collectors limit their farm tool collections to tools:
- Used for a specific purpose
- Made during a specific time period or era
- Made by a specific company
- Hand crafted by farmers
- Made of a specific material
To most antique collectors and dealers the term farm tools encompasses the general areas of:
- Hand tools such as pitchforks, wrenches, sickles and rakes
- Implements such as Vicon acrobats, haybobs and chain harrows used in tilling, plowing and harvesting
- Farm equipment such as threshers, balers, tractors and combines
The number of different farm tools from decades and centuries past is well into the thousands, or perhaps more likely tens of thousands. Although that might seem like a lot of different types of farms tools, Mary and P.T. Rathbone of Marshing, Idaho have amassed a collection of more than 3,500 farm implement wrenches alone. The Rathbones own and operate the R. Lucky Star Ranch Farm Museum where the wrenches are alphabetically displayed by company. With just that many types of farm implement wrenches alone, it is easy to see the number of unique farm tools is staggering.
Farm Tools from Yesteryear
The following are examples of the many types of farm tools from years past:
- Chaff cutters
- Ditching spades
- Breast ploughs
- Sheep sheers
- Horse hoots
- Potato or beet shovel
- Seed barrow
- Silage knife
- Long handled slasher
- Turnip chopper
- Bagging hook
- Wooden handled crook
- Root crop topping knife
- Pea flail
- Malt masher
- Grain sampler
- Wooden oxen yoke
- Barley hummeler
- Post hole borer
- Wooden seed dibble
- Pig scraper with hook
- Thatcher's stack bat
- Iron post hammer
- Shepherd's fold bar
- Turnip pick
- Reaping or sheaf hook
Resources for Antique and Vintage Farm Tools
The following farm tool price guides and informational books are available from Amazon.
- American Farm Collectibles: Identification and Price Guide by Russell Lewis
- Turn-of-the-Century Farm Tools and Implements by Henderson and Company
- Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements & Antiques by C H Wendel
- Dictionary of American Hand Tools: A Pictorial Synopsis by Alvin Sellens
- Antique Farm Tools lists the 750 piece collection of farm tools collected Peter Charles Dorrington between 1985 and 2001. The antique tools date from 1600 to 1940 and pictures are included.
- The History of Old Time Farm Implement Companies Volumes I and II by P. T. Rathbone of the R Lucky Star Ranch
- Farm Collector
- Larry and Carol Meeker's Patented-Antiques
A Unique Antique Tool Shed
Naturally some of the antique farm tools are still put to good use on farms around the country, others are carefully preserved in private collections and museums and still other are displayed in very unique ways. For example, Mike Druffel a farmer from southeast Washington, completed this unique tool shed built entirely from antique tools before his death in 2009.
Antique and Vintage Farm Tools
Collecting antique and vintage farm tools is a fun hobby that families can enjoy together. Not only is it fun hunting for these treasures from the past, it is also fun to have friends and family members try to guess what they were used for on the farm.