Great Planes Trading Co. was founded in 1992 by
Michael “Rat” Urness. GPTC is a licensed antique tool seller, auction
management and consulting business based in Chesterfield (St. Louis
For the past several years, Mike has put the retail sales on the back burner and concentrated on the auction portion of the business. Most of the tools he sells these days are those sold at the 8+ auctions he manages each year. The few sold outright are sold at the semi-annual and regional meetings of the Midwest Tool Collectors Association as well as at meetings of the Southwest Tool Collectors Association and Missouri Valley Wrench Club, and Early American Industries Association. See the links section for links to these clubs and information on how you can become a member of these and several other tool collecting associations around the country and world.
Mike Urness, owner of GPTC, has been selling tools on
the Internet since 1992. He started selling first on the AOL message boards, and later on the eBay Internet Auction site shortly after eBay came online. He sold on eBay the complete collections of six different individuals as well as thousands of his own tools.
In 2005 GPTC was commissioned to sell the woodworking
tool collection of Bill Hinz of Hutchinson, Kansas. That auction took place
in Indianapolis, Indiana. Since that 2005 auction, GPTC has managed the
sale of all or part of 32 additional tool collections.
In May, 2012 GPTC Managed the 6th Annual Humboldt Tool Auction in
Humboldt, Iowa. This auction has been held in the same building and on the same
weekend as regional meeting of the Midwest Tool Collectors Association
held in Humboldt. In this auction we have sold collections from Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois and Indiana.
In 2007 Mike Urness & Donald “Bus” Haury were hired as consultants by the Parker-Braden Auction Co. of Carlesbad, New Mexico to help sort out, identify and lot the massive collection of wrenches and carpenter tools that had been part of the Elmo & Richard Rinehart RRR Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Mike Urness is full time antique tool dealer, auction manager and
consultant who lives in Chesterfield (St. Louis County) Missouri. He began
collecting antique tools (first boring tools and eventually thumb or
finger planes and other tools) when he was a student at the Saint Louis
Community College at Meramec in 1991. By the time he graduated from UM-St.
Louis in 1994, he had begun selling antique tools on the Internet and had
decided to make a career of selling antique tools. Great Planes Trading
Company was licensed in the State of Missouri in 1995.
Mike has served two terms as a Director of the
Midwest Tool Collectors and two terms on that organization’s nominating
committee. In 2005 Mike hosted the Semi-Annual Meeting of the Mid-West
Tool Collectors Association at the Airport Marriott Hotel in St. Louis,
Missouri. He served a short stint as Newsletter Editor for the Southwest
Tool Collectors Association.
In recent years, Mike has been doing patent research with an emphasis on
U.S. Wrench Patents with the goal of publishing several books on United
States wrench patents that were issued between 1905 and 1955. He currently
has over 6000 patents for that time period. He also enjoys writing stories
for the M-WTCA Gristmill Magazine.
Life outside of tools:
Prior to returning to school, Mike worked on
Mississippi River towboats and tugs for 14 years in various capacities
including deckhand, mate, oiler, tankerman. By the time he hung up his
river shoes in 1989, he had earned Master Pilot's and Mate’s licenses thru
the Coast Guard and a Tankerman's license issued by the Merchant's Marine.
In 1989 Mike went back to school at the St. Louis
Community College at Meramec. While there he served at Editor of the
student paper “The Montage.” In 1992 Mike transferred with an AA degree in
General Transfer Studies from Meramec to the University of Missouri at St.
Louis where he worked as a features writer and copy editor on that
school’s paper “The Current.” In 1994 he graduated with a BA degree in
Communications with an emphasis in print media and minor in psychology.
In addition to antique tools, Mike collects or has
collected coins, stamps, beer cans, glass insulators, military insignias
(patches), steamboat prints, & bullets. While the nickname, Rat, is associated with his River
Rat past, it could just as easily apply to his Pack Rat lifestyle.
Other interests include folk, bluegrass, blues &
reggae music, camping, canoeing and antique motorcycles. Mike recently stepped down after serving several years as vice president of the St. Louis "Gateway Chapter" of the Antique
When he’s not working or riding, Mike can usually be
found in the kitchen baking banana bread or rolling sushi.