First Things

Fasten your seatbelts!

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It's March, when, if you're lucky, you're neither shoveling nor mowing. So take advantage of one last quiet moment before The Season gets underway, and settle in with this issue of Farm Collector. From Sam Moore's consideration of laundry days of old, to Delbert Trew's shoe-fitting fluoroscope, we think it's a doozy - which, for those of you who collect not only old iron but old words, is a piece of slang derived from the Duesenberg, yesteryear's luxury car.

In this issue, we move literally from terra firma, where writer James Boblenz examines the evolution of the tractor jack and collectibles in that category, to the heavens, where cupolas, lightning rods and pendants add graceful (and often functional) touches to the barn roof. Nikki Rajala, a newcomer to these pages, delves into the charm of the rooftop relics. Thrill of the hunt? Cupola collectors invented that phrase … read about the heart-stopping challenges of removing 500-pound structures from the top of a steeply pitched, often unstable barn roof in an article beginning on page 32.

For a collector with diverse tastes, reining in an unruly collection can be a battle. Jim McGhee has developed a unique approach to displaying a collection of tools that shows them off to their best advantage. Regular contributor Hank Will takes a look at the method in Jim's madness, and sneaks a peak at prizes in his collection. Get a second helping of that early craftsmanship in the article on collectible spark plugs. Clever names and powerful imagery gave the lowly automotive part a boost in the marketplace, and contribute to the plug's enduring popularity in collector circles nearly a century later.

When all is said and done, we are inevitably drawn to quality and pride in workmanship. Those themes are evident in a profile on Neal James, and again in a visit to an old-time plow match. Though technically a model maker, Neal is more aptly described as something between an artist and a genius. An article by regular contributor Bill Vossler captures Neal's passion for perfection, and his pride in his work. Writer Lyle Rolfe saw the same thing, on a larger scale, when he dropped in on an Illinois plow match. Contestants' names are not on the plots they plow: They don't have to be. Each is known for his style, his work. And so it is in life, as well. Happy reading!

Leslie McManus, Editor
lmcmanus@ogdenpubs.com