Hurricane Ian can’t stop Florida tractor museum auction
While Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on much of Florida last week, Paquette’s Historical International Farmall Museum was spared—though not for long. Although the complex, located in Leesburg (just north of Orlando), escaped storm damage, its contents will soon cross the auction block. The massive collection of antique tractors, signs, toys, and memorabilia was the pride and joy of John Stewart (“Stew”) Paquette, who passed away in March 2022.
According to Aumann Auctions, which is handling the sale, Paquette was “a pillar in the International Harvester community,” and it’s easy to see why. In addition to creating the museum, he hosted an annual tractor event that attracted visitors from across the United States, and he was also coordinator of the annual “Running of the Red” tractor caravan to The Villages in central Florida.
Paquette, a New England native, retired from the road construction and paving business in 1998 and, amazingly enough, never owned a farm tractor until 2004. Once he was bitten by the bug, however, his collection grew to nearly 200 tractors.
Paquette once explained to VisitFlorida.com that the museum was his way of showing appreciation for the vital role that farmers play in the story of America. “I love American history, and a lot of it comes from the farmers,” he said. “Farm families in the Midwest were all tied to the tractor; everyone working together with the tractor helping the nation grow.”
Paquette’s children kept the museum open for six months following their father’s death to give enthusiasts the opportunity to see “Stew’s Stuff,” as he called it, as often as they wanted before it was auctioned. Fans can get one last look at his many antique tractors, signs, toys, and memorabilia October 6–7, when the building is open to prospective bidders. Online bidding is already underway.
Six auction segments will end in stages next week: Bidding for late-model tractors will close on October 11; early-model tractors and implements on October 12; signs and pedal cars, toys, and memorabilia on October 13; and implements, parts, and tools, along with antiques, museum fixtures, and equipment, on October 14.
A 1924–32 IH Farmall Regular, one of only 200 produced, appears to be the most sought-after item; it has already been bid to $12,100. A 1954 Super MD-TA is up to $10,100, and a 1950s McCormick Super WD6-TA Standard to $6100.
A number of non-tractor IH vehicles are also available. Bidders seem particularly interested in a 1970 International Scout 800A SR-2, which has been bid to $36,000; a 1953 International R-120 Series pickup truck, which sits at $25,000; and a 1976 International Scout Diesel Terra II, bid to $21,100.
The Paquette auction comes on the heels of another tractor museum liquidation sale last weekend, in which Mecum auctioned tractors, trucks, and memorabilia from the George and June Schaaf Tractor and Truck Museum in Frankfort, Illinois. An astounding 15 tractors sold for six figures.
Topping the list was a 1917 Willmar Little Oak that sold for $420,000. Four other tractors sold between $262,500 and $294,000: a 1910 Gas Traction Company Big Four 30, $294,000; a 1924 Minneapolis 35-70, $283,500; a 1913 Hart-Parr 30-60, $278,250; and a 1917 Allis-Chalmers 10-18, $262,500.