Gordon Farmer’s appetite for the past filled warehouses that will be emptied in two weeks in a massive estate sale.
“It’s just unbelievable how much stuff is piled in here,” said Eric Grossmeyer, whose company, Heritage Estate Settlement, is conducting the sale for the nationally known collector’s family.
Farmer, who died in October at the age of 91, founded Augusta Concrete Block in 1946. The company’s many large warehouses offered Farmer near limitless space to store and preserve vast collections of bicycles, cars, railroad relics, advertising pieces and other items.
In June 2010, Farmer and his legendary collection were featured on American Pickers in an episode titled Gordon’s Gold Mine, which – he later told an Augusta Chronicle reporter – generated hundreds of calls from across the country.
The sale will span four days beginning June 6 and items will be priced rather than auctioned, Grossmeyer said. “Whatever isn’t sold we can take offers on, too.”
Inside the North Augusta buildings, there are shelves holding dozens of brass-bladed electric fans, and Coca-Cola items languish beneath dust in another corner. There are antique bicycles, iron safes and firefighting gear from the 1800s, including a megaphone once used to shout directions during a fire.
Among the bigger items are a 1930s Rock-Ola jukebox and – preserved under glass – a 10-foot folk art replica of the Robert E. Lee riverboat.
One of the most unusual collections features miniature steam engines, including one that powered a popcorn machine; and a steam-powered bicycle.
Over in a corner is one of the rarest items: “It’s an E. Howard clock tower movement,” Grossmeyer said. “It has its pendulum and weights, and would have been made around 1900.”
Some items are remnants of local history, such as a 500-bale of cotton Farmer once said was the last bale to leave Augusta’s once-bustling Cotton Row market.
Ticker tape machines, gold scales used by assayers, vintage Packard, Jaguar and Cadillac sedans – even a stainless steel condom dispenser – will all be sold, he said.
Anyone in the market for a historic building might want to look at the old Hamburg Rail Depot – which once served the now-vanished community across the Savannah River from Augusta. Farmer had it moved to the concrete plant.
There is also a bed from a Confederate Navy ship, and a host of railroad items, including porcelain sinks from a Pullman car.
The sale, Grossmeyer said, will surely draw a crowd and likely would please the man who made it all possible. “People love to treasure hunt and that’s what Gordon did.”