First Things

By Staff
article image
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.)

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