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Over the next couple of years, Arcade manufactured a variety of Fordson model F tractors in different sizes, colors, and varieties.
For example, the 1925 catalog contains a color photo of the 6-inch-long model Fordson, wheels bright red, and body grey with gold trimming, with lug wheels. The catalog describes the toy as "practically unbreakable. The front wheels and axles are mounted on a swivel that permits the tractor to follow an uneven path easily. The iron driver is removable. No clock work to get out of order. Alluringly painted. A delight for all real American children."
The next page in the 1925 catalog is a color photo of the No. 20 Fordson tractor with Whitehead & Kales Company tires (the photo clearly shows the W&K on the red rear tires). A third variety, with smooth "steel" wheels, rounded out the first series of Fordsons.
The late Robert Goke, father of Jim Goke of St. Cloud, Minn., collected a wide variety of Arcade cast iron toys. "He got those three varieties of the (large) Arcade Fordson tractors with different wheels," Jim says. "He wasn't really partial to Fordsons – in fact, they were probably a little later than his farming experiences, which ended before 1930, but he wanted all three kinds."
Jim now has these toys in his own collection. Along with them, he has a couple of smaller Arcade Fordson tractors made in the late 1920s, one called a medium (4-3/4 inches long), and the small, (3-7/8 inches long). Both of these smaller Fordson tractors came in the same three types as the larger ones, with lug, smooth, or rubber wheels. More varieties included, as the Arcade catalog says, "Assorted colors, red and green, with green and red wheels respectively." The 6-inch Fordson grey trimmed in gold bronze with red wheels and a nickel-plated driver was the most colorful. Today, these toys are prized because they are Arcades. Many were manufactured, and they are not difficult to find for reasonable amounts (the smaller ones for about $30, the larger about $60).
However, as Dave Nolt writes in Farm Toy Price Guide: The Blue Book of the Hobby, "Beware! Many reproductions (have been) made of Fordsons ... by early toy companies ... with super detail."
Elvin Fieldseth of Maple Lake, Minn., agrees that it can be difficult to detect copies of some of the Arcade tractors. He has an Arcade Fordson F with solid rubber wheels. He found the toy at Medina, Minnesota's first toy show six years ago.
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