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Rare Wood Shovels, Forks Decorate Their Home
Olan Bentley and his wife Janie are running out of room to display their collection of wooden forks and shovels. They have about 60 of the old-time tools on walls in their house and in an outbuilding. The Bentleys have been collecting them since the 1970s.
We were looking for things to display on our back porch, and I picked up a wooden spade, recalls Bentley. Soon after, I picked up 4 shovels. We picked up more as we traveled. Like any collection, you see something, fall in love and buy it.
Bentley fell in love with the wood grain and the wear patterns on the handles. He says the wooden shovels and forks are generally thought to have been made and used through the 1800s and early 1900s. Most of the shovels are similar in shape and around 34 or 35 in. tall. However, the forks come in a wide variety of types and sizes from simply a branch split in two to multiple tines and cross supports.
The shovels had many uses, as did the forks, says Bentley. We have a large fork with a curved handle that was used to rake straw from the platform of an early reaper. A person would walk alongside and rake straw off the platform. This fork is a very rare piece from the 1800s.
The wooden shovels would have been especially useful anyplace sparks were a concern. Bentley has one that was found unused at a black powder storage facility owned by Atlas Powder Co., Joplin, Mo.
Bentley notes that most were treated with some kind of oil or other protection. Most of the shovels appear to be made from light, but durable maple. Forks tend to be made with oak, he adds.
Although he has paid as much as $150 for one of his shovels, he tries to keep purchases under $100. He notes that the farm utensils can cost $100 to $300, depending on how rare they are.
In the case of forks, the number of tines has a definite impact on price. The more tines, the better, says Bentley. A 3-tine is the most common - 4, 5 and 6 are progressively less common, and 7 or 8 are very rare. We found our 7-tine in 2018, and our 10-tine is the only one Ive ever seen.
Bentley says wooden shovels and forks can be found on eBay, often labeled as coming from Eastern Europe. He points out that shipping can cost as much as the item, due to the long handles.
I found most of mine at antique malls and flea markets, but the rare forks are seldom found at affordable prices, says Bentley.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Olan Bentley, 1168 Jamison Rd. NW, Washington Court House, Ohio 43160 (ph 740 335-0964; obentley40@yahoo.com).

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2020 - Volume #44, Issue #2