Antique farm tools are a fairly common antique to find. Farming is one of the oldest industries, so farm tools have been around for centuries. The 20th century saw the most changes to occur in the development of farm tools. Antique farm tools from before that period can be very similar. If you just want to appreciate antique farm tools you can do that at many agricultural museums. But if you want to begin collecting antique farm tools you will want to learn a lot about them.
There is probably about as many ways to collect antique farm tools as there are collectors. A couple good choices to attempt to control your antique farm tool would be to just collect tools from a particular time period, maybe just collection farm tools from the time of the US Civil War. Another way to focus a collection of antique farm tools would be to build it around a certain type of item and try to get as many different styles or brands. Or collect antique plows over a wide a span of time as possible.
You may be thinking it takes a lot of space to collect antique farm tools, but the reality is you could collect smaller tools instead of the large threshing machines or other large farm implements. Maybe you could collect antique farm bells, or cow bells. How about a collection of antique hammers? The hammer head was probably forged by a blacksmith and the handle was probably replace many times by the farmer over the years.
It may be next to impossible to get an accurate date on many of the older antique farm tools. The metal hammer head could be much older than the handle. Farmers were, and still are, masters of repairing valuable tools. Today it may be faster and easier to simply go to the store and buy a new hammer, but in years past it would have been very expensive to replace the hammer so the farmer would have fitted a new handle into it. Nowadays not many hammers can actually have their handles replaced. And old horse drawn plow may have been handed down from one generation to the next, being repaired as needed to keep it in service.
This can be one of the appeals to collecting antique farm tools, the variety of hands that have worked with them. It can also make it difficult to identify fake antique farm tools. The person selling the antique plow may not even be aware that the plow frame is older than the plow shares. They may have just found it buried in the back of an old shed and offered it up for sale. It is most likely old but this is where experience will begin to pay off in being able to identify 19th century farm tools from 20th century farm tools.
It may nice to have a fine collection of antique farm tools, but most collectors will likely prefer the hunt for the antique as opposed to sitting and looking at their collection. There are some obvious places to start looking, like antique shops or another collector that is downsizing. You may decide not to actually buy from these sources as they won’t be the ‘bargain’ that you’re looking for, but don’t pass up the opportunity to at least learn from the collector and shop keeper. If you really want to find authentic antique farm tools visit some old farms or farm sales.
It’s unfortunate but many farms are going out of business and selling off everything they can. There will probably be quite a variety of farm tools at a farm auction if it’s been an operating farm until recently. There will likely be many newer farm tools, but what you’ll be looking for is the tool that got pulled out of the back of the tool shed that no one has seen or used for 50 years just for the auction because everything is being emptied out. Or the old harrow that has been buried in the fence row for the past 20 years and was old when it was left there.
If you’re comfortable do so you may not even need to wait for an auction. Find some old farms and visit and explain to them that you’re a collector of antique farm tools and wondered if you could look through some of their old sheds. If they say ‘No’, respect their wishes and move on, but if the say ‘Yes’, you still want to be respectful of their property while you search. If you’re lucky the farmer may even hunt with you and tell you different stories about some of the old tools you find.
Knowledge of the antique farm tools is going to be key for you to develop your collection. Learn everything you can about the particular area you’re focusing on. Enjoy the hunt.