Jan 21

Copper isn’t the only valuable piece of wire.

“Barb” photo by Andrew Kirby

Since its beginning in the late 1860, there have been more than 500 barbed wire patents granted. Varieties include just about anything a creative farmer or rancher could invent to better keep his property safe and secure.


Collecting rare barbed wire can prove to be a true treasure hunt. Interesting samples can be found at yard sales, as a part of downed fences and at auctions and museums.


According to The American Barb Wire Collector’s Society, barbed wire likely originated when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law in 1862 making 160 acre tracts of land available for ownership to western settlers who resided and improved the land for more than five years. Barbed wire was invented to deal with the problem of buffalo and free-grazing cattle destroying crops in disastrous proportions on western land where the split rail and rock fences used on eastern farms was not available.


Today, rare pieces of barbed wire have auctions for as much as $1,000. Harold L. Hagemeier, member of the Texas Barbed Wire Collectors Association, and author of Barbed Wire Identification Encyclopedia cross-referenced older guides, and compiled historical information for identification and pricing of collectible barbed wire. The book has become the leading reference guide for barbed wire collectors. It shows an average value of just about $6 per 18-inch piece. Rare sections of wire show an average value of around $300. Of course, many wires that can be obtained for much less, but prices have been fairly stable over the past decade. Mr. Hagemeier is also the curator of the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. The museum contains more than 3,000 wires, 750 fencing tools and extensive ranching history in its library.


Barbed wire can be an extremely valuable collectible and rare gift. Plaques of rare wire samples have been given to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush as birthday gifts. So, the next time you see a rusty piece of barbed wire mounted to a wooden plaque, you might want to give it a second look.


  1. Betsy

    You are doing an incredible job buddy. Regards from Hotel Charles de Gaulle. Keep together with the great do the job.

  2. Erica

    Major thankies for the article.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

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