10/5/2013 7:00 AM
By Sue Bowman Southeastern Pa. Correspondent
For most folks, the term “downsizing” means moving to smaller quarters. But though Edwin “Eddie” Funck and his wife, Sarah Funck, refer to their upcoming sale of tractors, farm equipment, farming memorabilia and assorted household antiques as “downsizing,” they aren’t going anywhere. They’ll continue to live on their 91-acre crop farm in North Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pa. In fact, even after they sell enough of their respective collections to require the services of not one, but two auctioneers on Saturday, Oct. 12, there will still be plenty of treasures remaining, neatly organized in Eddie Funck’s shed and Sarah Funck’s basement.
This retired farming couple has been married for 60 years. While Eddie Funck hails from a large farming family, Sarah Funck is a city girl who had to learn how to be a dairy farmer’s wife. Along the way, the Funcks began acquiring things of interest to them.
Eddie Funck started by collecting toy tractors and bridle rosettes. After giving up dairy farming in 1980, he filled his spare time by collecting larger “toys” — buying and restoring farm tractors and implements. Funck has a special affinity for tractors like the one he bought when he first started farming on his own in 1953 — an Allis-Chalmers WD. He has assembled a variety of other brands as well. He will be putting 10 of his 15 tractors on the auction block — one John Deere, one Avery and eight Allis-Chalmers of various vintages. However, he won’t be parting with two of his favorites — a Silver King and his 1930 Allis-Chalmers, which Eddie Funck said is as old as he is.
Asked which piece he feels will fetch the best price, Funck has no problem pointing to his circa 1938 Allis-Chalmers High Crop, which was used in the production of sugar cane and rice in the South.
Funck chuckled as he recalled, “I bought it sight unseen — and you wouldn’t have wanted to see it!”
He said that it was in such poor condition initially that he had to buy two tractors to come up with the necessary parts to make one restored version.
Other treasures that Funck is parting with include assorted pieces of antique farm equipment. Among them are a wooden flax stretcher, a cobbler’s bench, various hand plows, two antique seed cleaners, two corn shellers and a pedal-powered grinding wheel that also has a motor — just a few of the hundreds of items to be sold.
Sarah Funck began combing flea markets and auctions in the 1970s.
“Some things I don’t collect,” she said, as she noted that quilts and sewn items aren’t her thing. Instead, she prefers glassware, dishes, advertising items and old toys. Sarah Funck has a special interest in items with a local connection and/or dairy memorabilia.
She has assembled an impressive assortment of old milk bottles, including at least one she won’t be selling — an old Funck’s milk bottle that took plenty of effort to find.
“And I paid for it, too!” she said, to indicate that she did not come by it cheaply. It will remain in the family, she added.
The little glass creamer bottles and pitchers which she’s acquired over the years will be up for sale, as will the small metal rack which milkmen of old used to hold the creamers while making their rounds. Sarah Funck is selling several collections of cardboard milk bottle caps, including ones representing all the states, as well as numerous other dairy-related advertising souvenirs.
Sarah Funck, who retired from a long career with Bell Telephone, traces her fondness for pretty glassware to a job she had as a 10-year-old girl, when she did cleaning for a woman who had a number of blue glass pieces.
Now an expert on antique prices through the years, Sarah Funck said, “It’s a different era now and people collect different things than they used to.”
She added: “Dishes don’t bring what they once did. What once brought $400 to $500 then, might only be worth $100 now.”
Sarah Funck’s collection of toys — many of them farm related — is impressive. She also has an assortment of cast iron doll furniture manufactured by the Arcade Company during the 1930s, as well as a colorful Arcade metal sign.
How does one give up things so lovingly assembled through the years?
Sarah Funck is very matter-of-fact.
“I had it. I enjoyed it. Now it’s history,” she said.
Eddie Funck seems to be having a few more second thoughts, wondering if perhaps he should’ve kept more of his tractors.
“They’re all my favorites,” he said with a grin.
What will the Funcks do with all the extra space and spare time after the Oct. 12 auction?
“I’ll still keep playing around,” said Eddie Funck, as he thinks about the many farm items still remaining in his collection.
“And he still won’t do the dishes!” joked Sarah Funck with the humor born of a long and happy marriage.
The Funck’s sale is being conducted by John M. Hess Auction Service of Manheim, Pa., starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12; the tractors will be sold at noon. For more information, go to www.hess-auction.com or call 717-664-5238.