|By Connie Swaim
MILLERSBURG, Ohio — It is difficult to imagine the breadth of the Feb. 14-16 auction being conducted by Air Works Consignment Auction.
In the antiques and collectibles section alone there will be nine different auctions over the three days and some of them will be running simultaneously. More than 5,000 bidders are expected and more than 40 auctioneers will be working the many auction rings.
In terms of merchandise items will range in size from a salesman sample of a Bullard Hay Tedder to a 620-pound anvil. Another area of the grounds will be selling construction equipment.
Auctioneer Eli Troyer, who also manages the antiques division for Air Works, said this is both an event and an experience and that a person has to be a part of it to take it all in. “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said of the auction.
There are a number of extremely specialized collections at this sale. The groupings most likely to draw the most interest are blacksmithing tools, butchering tools and guns. Troyer said in the early days of advertising the auction, they were getting a lot of calls regarding the blacksmithing tools. Most of the 350 blacksmithing tools came from one collector. In addition to the aforementioned 620-pound anvil there will be many other anvils of all sizes as well as swage blocks, tongs and cone anvils.
The gun collection includes more than 350 guns and it is “the cat’s meow,” Troyer said. The butchering items being offered come from two consignors. Some of the items will be offered via online bidding in addition to being offered to those at the auction. Other sections of the auctions will not offer online bidding. More than 600 antique tools will be offered including vintage logging boots. And then there is the large selection of cast-iron tractor seats.
For those not interested in the tools and farm-related antiques, there will be a selection of more than 400 books. There are hundreds of antiques and collectible toys already consigned as well as the salesman samples.
Troyer thinks the Bullard Hay Tedder salesman sample, which comes with its original box, may be one of the stars of the auction. A tedder is a piece of equipment used in haymaking. Its moving forks aerate the hay.
The hay tedder came into existence in the 1860s. One source says that Ezekiel W. Bullard of Barre, Mass., is credited with inventing the tedder, but there is conflicting information on when and where the tedder first appeared. However, Bullard is credited with making the first widely available hay tedder on the American market. It is said that a man and a horse pulling a tedder could do the work of 15 laborers. According to Wikipedia, “It also resulted in greater economy, since cut grass could be turned into hay the same day even if it had become wet or been trampled by horses and before its nutritional value could be reduced by repeated soaking from rain. Especially in humid areas (such as the Eastern United States), the invention of the tedder added greatly to improved hay production from such crops as alfalfa and clover and allowed for haying while the grass was still green which produced hay of much higher value.”
Troyer said the salesman sample in the auction is one of only two known to exist.
But wait, there is more.
This event marks the 30th anniversary of Air Works Consignment auctions and many special events are planned. Founder Reuben Troyer will be offering a book about the auction firm. On Thursday, Feb. 14 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. there will be a three-member auctioneer roundtable event with Steve Andrews, Dave Kauffman and Steve Mullet. After that there will be a comedian. On Friday, Feb. 15 an auctioneer’s showcase will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Similar to a bid-calling contest, approximately 20 to 30 auctioneers will be selling in five to 10 minute shifts to showcase their talents and explain more about what it is like to be an auctioneer. Friday and Saturday will feature seminars throughout both days with Kaufmann and coach Thom Finn.
The auction firm began 30 years ago when Reuben’s growing air tools and fasteners business need a way to sell used rental equipment. He partnered with auctioneer Steve Andrews and the first Air Works Consignment Auction was born. In only three years the growing business had to move to a larger location. In 2015 the auction had grown even larger and more indoor space was needed. In 2015 the firm moved to the Mt. Hope Auction Grounds in Millersburg and the firm now has numerous buildings from which to sell as well as acres of space for larger items.
Over the years antiques crept into the consignment sections of the auction. Eli Troyer said five years ago the firm’s antiques consignment sales just exploded. “It got really good really fast.”
Eli said something new this year will be a shuttle service. Because the grounds of the auction facility are so vast, people often find themselves parking far from the action. This year people will be able to catch a ride. There are also heated buildings with plenty of seating.
For more information call Eli Troyer at (330) 317-9259 or visit