Pencil in hand, he noted the prices toys were selling for and waited until the ones he had highlighted in yellow came up for bid.
“There’s always toys I’m looking for,” said Borchardt of Mason City. “Especially John Deere.”
One of about 250 Iowans who turned out for the auction in the Olson Building, Borchardt was watching for farm toys to add to his collection of about 700.
Like others who attended, he had come in the day before to survey the toys and make note of the ones he could use.
Arranged neatly in rows on long tables, many of them in the boxes in which they came, the farm toys were being sold by members of the Behr family.
Chuck Behr, a farmer and owner of Chuck Behr’s Trailer Farm in Algona, died at the age of 70 in 2006. He collected farm toys all his life, but particularly once he retired, his son, Joe Behr of Mason City, said.
Chuck Behr’s particular favorites were Model B and Model G John Deere tractors, the first tractors his family owned, said Joe.
The 400 items being auctioned off by Joe’s brother, Ed Behr, represented about half of their father’s collection.
Their mother Sue said selling the farm toys was difficult for her.
“I’ve bonded with every one of them,” she said, emotion building in her voice.
She made the decision when she moved to a smaller home and didn’t have room for all of them.
One of her favorites was a Model G, 1/12th-scale John Deere tractor that makes a noise when the electric motor runs, she said, walking over to the tractor and starting it up.
Among the early buyers Saturday was Darlene Linahon of Clear Lake, who paid $55 for an orange Case VAC tractor No. 632 she planned to give to her son for his birthday.
“This is the best-organized auction I’ve been to by far,” she said, scanning the room. “They don’t do anything half-way.”
Shelly Richardson of Clear Lake purchased two red McCormick pedal tractors for her children, ages 4 and 6. She paid a total $260.
“I spent a lot less than I thought I would,” she said, laughing.
“The kids will be ecstatic. They love to do tractor pulls at the fair.”
Rilla Arnold of Mason City purchased a Farmall MV tractor for her brother’s collection.
“It looked like a good buy,” said Arnold, who paid $75 for it.
“I’m also looking to get John Deere toys, which is what we used on the farm.”
Among the farm toys that brought in the highest bids were a Knudson Custom Long Creek trailer, which went for $275; and custom-built John Deere tractors that brought in more than $200 each.
The auction was expected to last six hours.