Wheels of Another Sort


My regular readers know I tend to haunt auctions for spinning wheels. Many a good wheel turns up this way, if you know what to look for. At the end of June, though, I attended an auction full of wheels of a different sort. A carriage auction.

Although I though my equine days were over, I acquired a team of fine young mules for which I didn’t exactly have a need but it kept them out of the Alpo factory. Because no one in New Jersey knew anything about mules (I have since found a few knowledgeable people), I found a trainer in Ohio and shipped them there. So far, they have learned to pack, to ride Western, to ride English, and are now being trained to jump. They were also trained to pull.

Knowing nothing about the world of carriage driving, I joined the Garden State Carriage and Horse Society and a whole new world opened up. And, with it, a whole new vocabulary. Clearly, the learning curve was steep. I was told that one place where I would get quite an eye-opener was the Lancaster County (PA) annual carriage auction. So, on an overcast morning in late June, we hit the road for Bird-In-Hand, PA.

You know you are in Amish country when you see this in the parking lot of a local business:

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It is common sight, a horse and buggy at a hitching post outside of various businesses. When we got to the auction, there was even a special spot:

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And once you got in, a little reminder on how to treat your friendly equine:

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And, there were more than a few teams in attendance:

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It is hard in a photo to really reflect the scope of this. My husband mused that it probably reflected the picket line of the 7th Cavalry. There were easily 100 horses here:

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And an equivocal number of conveyances:

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It was beyond our imagination. And, inside the auction, the number of conveyances only tripled:

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There were road carts and Meadowbrooks, traps and wagonettes, buggies and big farm wagons. There were conveyances for cold weather:

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For special occasions:

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And for solemn occasions:

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Prices ranged from a few hundred to $10,000 for a brand-new top-of-the-line Amish buggy. I was chagrined to have not signed up for a bidder number when this cutie came and went for $350:

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If’in I ever get a knitting shop, this would have made a tremendous display for yarn and roving!

It was fun just to crowd-watch. There were hundreds of people on site, both looking at carriages and at the adjacent farm clean-out auction. Among all the old farm stuff, just 3 spinning wheels. A saxony with a broken flyer and two less than perfect great wheels, so nothing I broke into a sweat over.

We watched some young Amish men, just about driver’s license age, kicking the tires on used buggies. It must be quite a step up to own your own and not have to borrow dad’s for date. And, lest you think the Amish are squares, they do use modern conveniences:

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Other things were being sold than just carriages and harness. You might need something to pull your cart:

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A little young yet, but give him time!

There was also a rather spectacular flowering plant auction that was still in full swing when we left at 4:00 PM

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That alone would have been worth the trip! But, then again, there is always next year ….

It was a long way back to the parking lot, but even that was provided for. Have mule, will give you a lift ..

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