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Parting With a Lifetime’s Collection: Legard Farm Auction Showcases Farming History

R.T. Legard built a collection across many decades. One of the most "real" collections you will find today!

Parting With a Lifetime’s Collection: Legard Farm Auction Showcases Farming History photo

One of the largest collections of antique tractors and farming equipment is going up for auction as a dean of Loudoun’s agricultural community prepares for retirement.

“There’s three generations of farm equipment here,” R.T. Legard Jr., 79, said looking over a field with row after row of tractors and other farm implements lined up in preparation of the sale, which is expected to draw thousands of collectors to Glenmore Farm near Wheatland on Sept. 2 and Sept. 3. “Some of this stuff had belonged to my grandfather, and other equipment dad bought and there are things that I grew up with.”

His grandfather, Robert Norris Legard, started farming the land on lease shares in 1915 and bought the property in 1919. He farmed with three-horse teams as did his son, R.T. Legard Sr.

“My dad farmed with horses far longer than most of the farmers,” Legard said. It wasn’t until 1940 that the family bought their first tractor, a Farmall H. That machine is in the collection of the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum in Sterling. 

The family’s second tractor, purchased in 1949, is in the field for the sale—along with 180 others that Legard has collected over the past four decades.

He didn’t intentionally start out to be a tractor collector.

In 1978, he had two tractors broken down and needed a replacement until they could be repaired. A neighbor had a restored John Deere A in his yard for sale and he made a trade for it. It was a crank start even older than the one his father had used.

“It turned out to be a 1941. I thought, gee, this is two years older than I am. Somebody should save that,” Legard said.

A month or so later, while on a parts run to Urbana, Legard saw a Farmall F-20 along the side of the road. “I thought, gee my uncle used to have one of those. They were asking $300. I gave $275 and brought it home,” he said.

“And then it got out of hand.”

Soon people would report to him when they came across something they thought he would be interested in. He recalled a time a friend went to the livestock market in Boonesboro and saw a used equipment lot next door with a steel-wheel tractor. “So, I went to check that out and brought it home,” Legard said.

A line of tractors that are part of the collection assembled by R.T. Legard over the past four decades. [Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now]

More than half of his collection was bought locally. “There are numerous Loudoun County tractors here,” he said.

The oldest in the collection is a 1916 International Harvester Mogul, which was one of the most popular tractors sold in the U.S. at the time.

His favorite—the one he would keep if he could—is the 1925 Rumely Oil Pull Lightweight, one of his earliest acquisitions. 

For years, most of the tractors have been stored under roof, tightly packed in the farm’s large sheds. It is only over the past six weeks in preparation for the sale that they’ve been out and displayed all at once.

He’s tinkered with many of them over the years and tried to start the ones that were operational at least once a year. 

“The most I had running at any one time was 82,” he said. “But I’ve got way more than I could take care of now. Some that ran when they came here are no longer running, and that is discouraging.”

While his passion for the machines remains strong, Legard said he is ready to pass this collection on to others who share his appreciation for them.

R.T. Legard on a 1916 1916 Mogul Kerosene Tractor, the oldest in his collection. [Norman K. Styer/Loudoun Now]

“It’s time for somebody else to get them where they can take better care of them than I have. Many of them I’ve saved from the junk man. Literally, they were on the truck ready to head to the scrapyard. I’ve saved them this far and we’ll see whether somebody else wants to take over,” he said. “I’d like to have been able to settle back and enjoy playing with them and working with them some, but that just hasn’t happened.”

Aumann Auctions, describing the offerings as one of the “largest, oldest and best ‘unknown’ collections” of farm antiques remaining, is preparing for a crowd of thousands, with collectors from Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio having made inquiries. Beyond the tractors there are thousands of other farm implements, from corn shellers to blacksmithing tools and threshing machines. Details of the sale are at aumannvintagepower.com.

Article by:Norman K Styer
Photo Gallery by Douglas Graham

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