Collaborative collections

rpulley@lsjournal.comAugust 30, 2013 

Jerry Hertzog looks over his antique collection he’s getting ready to sell at his family’s auction center in Greenwood.

“Everything from a baby grand piano to a silver dollar,” Jerry Hertzog said. “I just kind of collected stuff my whole life.”

There, he sees 50 years of memories during his career as auctioneer: farm sales and business liquidations some involving notable people or institutions like Longview Farm and Kansas City’s Union Station.

Hertzog and his siblings grew up in Lee’s Summit, near Longview Farm during its heyday.

He’s retired, his sons run Hertzog Auction Company in Greenwood, and he said he decided its time to part with his hoard. He’s having a sale Sept. 7 and 8.

He’s moving to a smaller home, and also he wants to sell the collection while he’s around to tell the stories behind some of the pieces. Some things he’s keeping, one is a chandelier from R.A. Long’s dining car that he’ll hang in the new home.

Hertzog said he started auctioneering while he was a food salesman for Stokely-Van Camp and ran auctions on the side. He said he didn’t even have his own car, he drove a company vehicle, until one day his bosses called him in for a meeting. He had to choose between the two jobs.

“I took the keys and slid them down the conference table,” Hertzog said. “With four squalling kids at home my wife (Jane) thought I was crazy.”

Having many friends and acquaintances in Jackson County and Cass County helped him establish the business, which he ran for many years with Claude Raynes of Pleasant Hill.

Sonny Paul, of Greenwood, who’s in the horse business, said he knows Jerry Hertzog from going to sales and has a niece married to a nephew of Hertzog. He said Hertog handled many sales and at them picked up something.

“I’ve done the same thing, but I couldn’t afford as expensive,” Paul said.

He said Hertzog, like any auctioneer, has detractors and boosters.

“Some people love him, some people hate him, Paul said. “They buy something and they get home and learn it’s junk. But he always tells them he can’t guarantee anything, he’s just selling it.”

As society changed and businesses closed,, farms changed hands and gave way to subdivisions, and owners or families called on Hertzog for auctions and estate sales.

Because the Hertzog family was well known, Hertzog said, it helped his business, plus he kept up on the value of things he’d sell. He knew where to start bidding to get a good price for his clients.

During his career, Hertzog said, he also ran sales for the Safari Club International in Las Vegas and Reno, and cattle sales, and for the Small Business Administration. His footprints covered 19 states.

Through all that he gathered his own antiques.

He said there are milk bottles from Longview Farm and Chapman Dairy, and other antiques from Longview Farm. There he ran a sale where he once sold a saddle-makers bench to a man from Pleasant Hill, he said, and when that man died, Hertzog bought the bench.

Other items that came from Longview include brass grain balance scales, and grain probes, and harness parts, he said.

Some things passed to him from old-timers, like a walking stick that belonged to Todd George, a former mayor. Hertzog, as a boy, saw George in Lee’s Summit walking in a white suit and string tie.

“He’d remind you of Col. Sanders,” Hertzog said.

He also has a cane from Longview he thinks belonged to R.A. Long, the millionaire who built the showplace farm in the early 1900s, or Loula Long Combs, his daughter, but he’s not sure which.

There are medical scales from old Lee’s Summit pharmacies, hand bells from a couple of the many one-room school houses – Cedar Hill and Tennyson – which youngsters attended before the 1949 consolidation into the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.

The list is long.

There are odds and ends of local interest, such as a promotional salt-and-pepper shaker made to look like Country Club Beer, made in Kansas City by the Goetz Brewery.

It includes three Shipley’s Saddles purchased from Shipley’s at the Kansas City Stockyards, shoe-polishing stands and ticket stamps from Union Station.

Hertzog has 300 Morgan Silver Dollars from the 1880s to 1920s.

And a Civil War canteen.

Plus, hundreds more items from fishing plugs, to dishes, to oil lamps, to a snake bite kit.

Hertzog said he ran a sale for Chester Bailey, who had a farm and dairy on Ranson Road (now a park on part of the land). From there he got a butter churn.

“You talk about tight,” Hertzog said, reminiscing.

Bailey offered to sell him a copper tub which appeared to hold 30 gallons, Hertzog said, and he told Bailey the going price is about $1 for each gallon (of capacity). Bailey later told Hertzog he wanted $51. He’d taken time to fill it, counting out the 51 gallons it held.

Bud Hertzog, his brother and well-known Lee’s Summit verterinarian and member of Lee’s Summit Historical Society, said he and some others would go to the sale to see if they can get some artifacts for its museum. He said his brother had sales at many noteworthy farms and businesses.

Bud Hertzog said that years ago he’d take his small children to the auctions, where their uncle would torment them.

They’d try to stay hidden in the crowd, worried that Jerry Hertzog would single them out for teasing. Invariably their uncle would spy on them as he was taking bids on some cheap item. He’d tell one of them they’d bought it.

He kept them in stitches, Bud Herzog said.

“They’d say no, but he’d say ‘Yes, I saw you touch your nose.’”

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