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His Passion Is Collecting Dairy Memorabilia
In 2013 Ed Larsonís back surgery took him away from running the family dairy operation and launched his new passion: collecting rare antique dairy memorabilia. Larson started off collecting glass milk bottles from Wisconsin and then moved on to butter churns, dairy signs, milking machines, sales literature, and more.
   Larson says one of his oldest bottles is from 1886, probably one of the first ever made for Wisconsin milk. Many of those in his collection have the brand of milk and the bottling company embossed in the glass. Larson says that technique was common until the mid 1930ís, and then colored bottles were used for another 20 years.
  A few years ago Larson ran across a kerosene-powered Lake Breeze fan and decided that it needed to be in his collection. Heíd never seen one before and hasnít seen another one since that purchase.
  A Roth milking machine, patented in 1913, is fashioned out of a metal tube about 6 in. long, with a squeezable spring handle to extract milk. Larson says it didnít become popular because it really didnít simplify the hand-squeezing process and cows found it uncomfortable. A Scotsman named Alexander Shiels solved that dilemma by inventing a pulsator that used rubber suction cups. Larson has several brands of antique milking machines that feature pulsating action, a concept still in use today.
  Another aspect of his collection is literature and equipment used by traveling salesmen peddling equipment for dairymen. A DeLaval Model F Combine milker shows how a two-cow parlor worked in the 1940ís. A wooden silo built to scale resides in a fancy carrying case. A stick-built dairy building and a sales kit for Harvestor Silos from the early 1960ís are other rare sales aids he owns.
  Larson also has an original True-Type model Holstein cow and bull set believed to be from the 1920ís. Only a handful of the 1/4-scale models were made. They were used to help judges rate and rank cattle at fairs and shows.
  Larson finds items on eBay, Craigslist, in the paper, or at auctions. Now that word has spread of his collecting he says people are even calling him to take things off their hands. Heís still looking for a few milk bottles from Wisconsin, including a Charlie Moss from Evansville, but hasnít gotten them yet.
  Someday he might open a visitor center at the dairy farm to display his items, but thatís still in the thinking stages.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ed Larson, Larson Acres, 18218 W WI-59, Evansville, Wis. 53546.

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #4