Box 156, Cumberland, Iowa 50843
What is a shelf pet? A shelf pet is a small gas engine or related item that can be stored on a shelf. Many shelf pets are necessary due to shortage of storage or poor health reasons. They also are desired by collectors who just like something small they can handle themselves. How many times do we hear 'the doctor says I can't lift anything very heavy.' A shelf pet is the answer. It allows many people who could not continue their passion for gas engines to go on with their hobby. Quite a few collectors live in town or are limited for space. A shelf in the garage in front of the car or in the basement will hold a shelf pet nicely. Shelf pets are easy to get around and can be taken to shows quite easily.
One collector of old cars has a Handy Andy in the trunk of one of his old cars. It is not for sale because it was in the car when he bought it, and he wants to leave the car original.
In addition to gas engines, other related items can qualify as shelf pets. Advertising signs, gas cans, wrenches, and wood company service cabinets make very attractive shelf pets as well as decorator items. Some of these items make great accessories for decorating inside the home. Books, literature and salesman samples are valuable and highly treasured shelf pets. In my travels I have seen salesman samples of Olds, Stickney and Domestic gas engines, and they are truly works of art to be displayed in an appropriate manner.
Models make excellent shelf pets and they can be carried about in small cases. Whether you build them yourself or buy them, models are becoming increasingly popular at shows. Quite a number of models will fit into a small economy car. With the high cost of fuel to get to shows we will probably see an increase in models and other small displays at the shows.
With their increasing popularity, shelf pets have been going up in price. Some have gone about out of sight, but others can be bought for reasonable prices. Some of the easier shelf pets to find include Maytags, Nelson Bros, small air cooled, the Duro and Associated Mfgs. small air cooled 'Colt' engine.
Several engines seem to qualify as elite among shelf pets. They are not exceptionally hard to find, but are awfully hard to buy. Their owners never seem to want to get rid of them and when they do it's always for quite a few coins. These engines include the ? HP New Holland, Galloway's 'Handy Andy', and International's Mogul Jr. in the flat top and perculator models.
Some medium priced pets would include small Ideal and Bluffton engines. International's Tom Thumb, 1 HP Titan and Titan Jr. engines fill out this group.
There are several small engines that qualify as shelf pets that are not seen very often. About 1911 the John Lauson Mfg. Co. of New Holstein, Wisconsin had on the market a 1 HP hit and miss engine they called the 'Willing Helper.' This 'Baby Frost King' is a heavily built and excellent running engine.
Another small gem is the Franklin engine. It came to the buyer in kit form and was assembled for small power uses such as jewlery stores. The flywheels on the Franklin were placed inside the engine block and the engine resembled a small steam engine.
The Sieverkropp Engine Company of Racine, Wisconsin put out a small horizontal hopper cooled engine in 1913. It possibly has the smallest water hopper on it of all the gas engines and originally cost $19.50 to purchase.
There are several other small engines that I have not been able to find out much about. They do not have much in the way of identification on them. There are pictures with this article in the hopes that someone can help with identification and history.
Happy pet hunting to everyone. To those with pets at home, be sure to keep them well cared for and locked up at night. Of all the gas engines, shelf pets have the most tendency to wander off from their owners.