Internet takes auction to the world
The unbelievable antique farm machinery collection of the late Carl Villwock filled three sheds, with surplus tractors stored outside. Carl and his on-farm museum were featured on the cover of Indiana Prairie Farmer earlier this decade.
His heirs, including son, Don, Edwardsport, were faced with a decision. Sell off the museum, or keep it? And if it’s sold off, what’s the best way to sell it? The family’s decision was to sell off a good portion of the collection, although not all of it, including several very rare tractors.
That leaves the hard part — how to sell it. “Like my dad before me, I subscribe to many antique farm [equipment] magazines and often read sale advertisements. I’ve attended some of the auctions,” the younger Villwock explains. He is also president of Indiana Farm Bureau.
• The type of merchandise for sale plays a role in the best way to sell it.
• The goal is figuring out how to reach specialized collectors.
• Displaying the elder Villwock’s collection to the world via Internet a fitting tribute.
“With my schedule it has become easier to view sales online rather than drive six or more hours to a sale. I would lose valuable family or farm time that could be better utilized at home on the weekends.
“I’ve also found that rare antique tractor, farm machinery and cast iron seat collectors are a unique group of bidders scattered all over the country. There are only a few national auctioneers specializing in this arena, and they all have a big following.”
The first inclination for many farmers today would still be to hire the local auctioneer and run with it. And for a routine farm sale with a typical line of farm machinery, of interest to local bidders, that’s still a great option. But Villwock wasn’t selling farm tractors and combines. His merchandise is unique.
“We asked one of the companies we talked to why we should consider them and not someone local,” Villwock explains. They pulled up the last sale on their laptop and showed that 45,000 Internet viewers saw their online flyer. Many were online for part or all of the auction. There were viewers from New Zealand, China, Russia, England and all over.
“What I also like is that the modern Internet bidding process doesn’t slow up the auction,” Villwock says.
The auction company is responsible for shipping everything except the antique tractors. Villwock sees that as an advantage.
Another big plus is that the firm he hired, Aumann Auctions, Nokomis, Ill., carefully photographs the entire collection. “If it’s a toy auction, we often bring the entire collection to our place to photograph and catalog it, then haul it back,” says Nelson Aumann.
In this case, Villwock reports six of the firm’s employees spent more than four days photographing the collection. Then comes the hard part — letting go of it.
To have a place with enough parking and with inside selling space, Villwock decided to hold the auction at Dinky’s Auction Barn in Montgomery. He knows that 25-mile trek with loads of items will be time-consuming and heartbreaking.
“I hope Dad understands what we’re doing,” Villwock quips. “That earthquake earlier in the winter may have been Dad turning over in his grave!”
This article published in the March, 2011 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.