Pictured is Dick Leill holding a very rare Vandiver corn planter seat. Behind him, a small part of his collection.
4505 Sugar Maple Drive, Lafayette, IN 47905, editor of 'THE CAST IRON SEAT NEWSLETTER'
The collecting of cast iron implement seats has become a most enthusiastic hobby of hundreds of people throughout North America and Great Britain.
Many of these 'fero sedileists' are also gas engine, and/or steam engine buffs. They have their own catalog of seat pictures, names and numbers, and the buying, selling and trading of seats is going on at a feverish pace. During this past year, one seat auction at Cedar Falls, Iowa, brought in approximately $100,000. The top price for a seat was $775.00, with many going for several hundred dollars.
The 'Cast Iron Seat Collectors Association', which was formed several years ago, now has over 300 members and is rapidly growing. A newsletter is sent out to members every three months and they have an annual convention and a mid-year meeting. The group has members from all over the world.
The hobby has really caught on in England where a new seat collector's club was formed in September 1981, with Douglas Walker of Norfold, England, as the first president. Walker is the biggest collector in England. Most collectors have their collections painted and displayed on walls of their barn, garage, or basement and on occasion, you might see one or two in the living room of an enthusiastic collector.
The largest collection in the world is owned by John Friedly of Ionia, Missouri. He now has approximately 1100 different seats. Friedly is president of the American club.
There are about a dozen different seats that are relatively easy to come by and then it starts to become a hunt and the real fun begins. A few have a 'one-of-a-kind' status and these command a very high price.
As most readers would know, cast iron seats were used on the very early horse drawn farm implements and provided a seat for the operator. This would include plows, rakes, harrows, rollers, cultivators, corn cutters, mowers, planters, etc. Many were very ornate and included in the casting the name of the manufacturer. Some of the very first tractors had cast iron seats, but these were done away with at a very early date in favor of the cheaper pressed steel seats.
I personally have traveled nearly 100,000 miles in the last three years in search of additions to my collection. I have traveled by land, air and sea and look forward with much excitement to each new lead that takes' me across hills and seas in pursuit of that seat that nobody else has. As with most other collections, just when you think you have a brand new addition to the world of collecting, you meet the fellow who also has one like it. It has been great sport and a good investment. As long as there are additional places to look and somebody to trade with, this relatively new hobby has a bright and fun-filled future.
Anyone desiring additional information may contact Dick Leill, 4505 Sugar Maple Drive, Lafayette, Indiana 47905. Phone 317-447-5946.
(Editor's Note: The annual meeting of the association will be held July 16, 17, 18, 1982 in conjunction with the Central Hawkeye Gas Engine and Tractor Association show in Waukee, Iowa, 15 miles west of Des Moines.)