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-Photo of the messenger by Kelby Wingert

Ron Knorr wields a “whatzit” tool at the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association meeting on Sunday at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds. The “whatzit” program encourages collectors to bring in unusual and obscure tools to help them understand what they have been used for. While no one can say definitively what this tool was, the consensus was that it was probably a concrete stamp.

HUMBOLDT – LeRoy Witzel has been collecting hand tools and antique machines for almost 25 years.

Humboldt’s man estimates he has between 5,000 and 6,000 different, unusual, farm-related tools.

It all started when he inherited a family toolbox full of tools from the 1930s.

“I just started exploring and learning more about them and the next thing you knew I started collecting them,” Said Witzel.

Currently, Witzel is focusing on agricultural implements used by the older generations of corn farmers and ranchers. Many of his pieces are foot machines, which are his favorite collectibles.

-Photo of the messenger by Kelby Wingert

Hundreds of ancient tools were on display for shipping and trading at the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association meeting at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds on Sunday.

“After I retired from farming it was a great hobby for me to spend my time working with them and I guess I enjoyed seeing and preserving some of that old stuff that’s gone,” Said Witzel.

It was his love of old tools that led him to the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association, which recently held its annual regional meeting at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds on Sunday.

Dozens of tool users, enthusiasts and collectors from as far away as Montana and Massachusetts, came for the three-day event, according to event organizer Rusty Farrington of Rockwell City. Days one and two were auction days, where various rare old tools were auctioned off, while day three was the reunion and schedule.

During the auction there were several tools from the 1700s, both European and American, Farrington said.

During the meeting, members organized a “Whatzit” presentation, where other members bring in unusual and obscure tools that they don’t know how to use, and collectively the group tries to figure it out. Sometimes an answer is found for something like an old juicer or a hotplate for an old wood stove. But sometimes only guesses can be made, such as a tool that looks a bit like a mark of cattle, but isn’t, can be a concrete stamp used to stamp a logo or design on a newly laid sidewalk.

-Photo of the messenger by Kelby Wingert

Tiny cans of oil are part of LeRoy Witzel’s antique tool collection. The Humboldt man has been collecting antique tools and machines for 25 years.

George Wanamaker, Macomb, Illinois, gave a presentation on unusual measurement tools and measures. Items he showed and talked about included a butter ruler used between 1920 and 1950, a baby scale used in early doctor’s offices, a sand kitchen timer, a measure used by lobster fishermen, and more.

-Photo of the messenger by Kelby Wingert

LeRoy Witzel, of Humboldt, shows off a hole saw that is part of his antique tool collection at the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association meeting at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds on Sunday. Witzel has been collecting antique tools and machines for around 25 years.

-Photo of the messenger by Kelby Wingert

George Wanamaker, of Macomb, Illinois, holds an old butter ruler, which was used to measure butter between the 1920s and 1950s, when measurements began to be printed on paper wrappers on butter sticks. Wanamaker showcased unusual measuring tools and measurements at the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association meeting at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds on Sunday.

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