Holiday Gift Ideas for Old Iron Enthusiasts

Just in time for the holidays, gift ideas for the old-iron enthusiasts on your list, including yourself.

Classic Farm Tractors

Packed with concise information and sparkling photography, "Classic Farm Tractors" offers a brisk stroll through tractor history.

Cover courtesy Voyageur Press

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They say ‘tis better to give than receive, but that’s a tough call with this season’s selection of books, calendars and toys. Go ahead; take a peek. Whether you’re hunting for something special for folks on your list or dropping hints, you’re bound to find stocking-worthy treats:

A great addition to the old iron category, Robert Pripps’ Classic Farm Tractors: 200 of the Best, Worst, and Most Fascinating Tractors of All Time trains the spotlight on 200 handsomely restored tractors. But don’t expect to find chapters titled “Best” and “Worst.” Pripps is wisely diplomatic. Still, the careful reader will soon learn his opinions. And he more than delivers on the “most fascinating,” including the rarely seen or mentioned Hanomag R40, Renault wood burner, Avery Ro-Trak and Kaywood D, among others.

Classic Farm Tractors is a stout but handy book, complete with an index so you can scout for your favorites. Arranged chronologically from 1900 to 2001, the content is an easy occasional read. Pripps tailored the text based on the conclusion that the book would have two categories of readers. “The experienced person wants to see if I got it right,” he says in the book’s introduction. “The inexperienced person might want to know about power, shifting, starting, steering and speed.” Agreeably, the author gives a bit of interesting background on each tractor as well as essential basic data. Ralph Sanders’ always excellent photography (and some first-rate shots by Andrew Morland) leaves no doubt why each tractor was included in the selection. A handsome and accessible overview of old iron.

Classic Farm Tractors, Robert N. Pripps with color photography by Ralph W. Sanders, soft cover, 304 pages, Voyageur Press, 2014. Available through Farm Collector Books: Call (866) 624-9388 or visit us online: Classic Farm Tractors.

Author and illustrator Billy Steers performs a neat trick in his series of Tractor Mac children’s books, blending solid facts, sweet fiction and charming illustrations into a kid-friendly package depicting life on the farm. All center on the adventures of Tractor Mac – a personable Farmall Cub look-alike. The father of three sons, Steers speaks in a language kids enjoy and weaves lively tales that make good bedtime reading.

Steers’ beautiful color illustrations make an effective counterpart to the story and black-and-white images at the front and back of the book provide details on Tractor Mac’s anatomy. Key parts and components are clearly labeled for the kids who haven’t had first-hand tractor experience – but who’ll be clamoring for it after getting their hands on these books. And check out the Tractor Mac companion toy sets: 1/16-scale diecast metal tractors paired with heavy-duty molded plastic critters, all by Ertl. It’s a “can’t miss” duo for the youngsters on your Christmas list!

Tractor Mac Saves Christmas by Billy Steers, hardback, 24 pages, text and full color illustrations by the author, Tractor Mac Inc., 2007; available through Tractor Mac.

Selling more than 150,000 copies of the first edition of The Big Book of John Deere (published in 1999), Voyageur Press knew it had a hit on its hands. This year brings a second edition in The Bigger Book of John Deere: The Complete Model-by-Model Encyclopedia plus Classic Toys, Brochures, and Collectibles. The second edition contains an additional chapter focusing on John Deere tractors built from 1999 to 2009.

Author Don Macmillan (who died in 2013 at age 93) is widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on the history of Deere & Co. Macmillan authored several books on the John Deere line, including the definitive two-volume set John Deere Tractors and Equipment. Awarded the first Deere dealer franchise in the U.K. in 1958, Macmillan was an avid student of the line and that knowledge is showcased in this book. The Bigger Book is packed with fine full-color photos of John Deere tractors, toys and scale models, and vintage Deere booklets, brochures and operator manuals. Macmillan’s books are the foundation of any serious Deere collector’s library.

The Bigger Book of John Deere, Don Macmillan with photography by Andrew Morland and Randy Leffingwell, soft cover, 288 pages, color illustrations and photos throughout, Voyageur Press, 2014; Voyageur Press.

Know a kid or two who thinks corn comes from the grocery’s freezer section? Put ‘em on track with A Year on the Farm with Casey & Friends. Part of a new “Case IH for kids” series, the text introduces children to the world of modern farming, showing the tractors, combines and other equipment needed to plant and harvest crops. Plenty of detail combined with lots of color photos and illustrations makes this an engaging read for kids ages 4-8. A fun (and educational) read for kids and their grandparents!

A Year on the Farm with Casey & Friends, Holly Dufek with illustrations by Paul E. Nunn, hardback, 32 pages, color illustrations and photos, Octane Press, 2015. Available through Octane Press, (512) 334-9441; online at Octane Press.

Farmalls by the dozen are the focus of Lee Klancher’s Farmall Calendar 2015. Klancher’s artistry is at its best when he’s allowed to give careful consideration to composition, and he clearly had full rein on this project. From field to shop to factory, the backdrop for each tractor is as richly composed as the tractor in the foreground.

Featured tractors include an International Cub Lo-Boy, 1962 International A514 Diesel, 1973 International 1066 Hydro, 1952 Super M LP, 1927 Farmall Regular, 1964 International 504 LP, 1970 International 1456, 1984 International 3088, 1958 International 130, 1974 International 1468 with a 1973 International Model 1110 truck, 1919 Mogul 10-20 and a 1971 1026 Wheatland Hydro. Each portrait is accompanied by a short story about the tractor. Bonus material for the enthusiast: comments from radio announcer Orion Samuelson and well-known collectors from all over the U.S.

Farmall Calendar 2015, full color, Octane Press. Available through Octane Press, (512) 334-9441; online at Octane Press.

The Classic Farm Tractors 2015 calendar hits another one out of the park. Rare, unique tractors – from a factory white John Deere 2240 to a 1920 Wetmore 12-25 – practically drive off of every page. Others in the 2015 line-up include a gleaming 1939 Ford-Ferguson 9N with an aluminum hood, a 1937 Centaur KV (Klear View), an articulated International 3588, a 1958 John Deere 720 Diesel, a 1950 Allis-Chalmers Model U, an original 1936 Oliver 70, a 1957 McCormick D-217 built in Germany, a 1919 Russell known as “The Boss,” a 1952 CO-OP E2 and a rare 1942 Case S standard tread.

Bonus material in this year’s calendar covers big tractors like the 1982 Rite 750 and the Big Bud 16V-747, as well as a unique Ford-Ferguson and vintage implements. The man who built the Rite is even featured in the cover photo. For the fan of antique tractors, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Classic Farm Tractors 2015 calendar and Classic Garden Tractors 2015 calendar, full color, Kalendae Communications/Classic Tractor Fever. Available through Kalendae Communications, (800) 888-8979; online at Classic Tractors.

Irma Harding – fictional spokeswoman for International Harvester appliances in the 1950s – is back on stage for her second act, thanks to Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding: Recipes to Preserve Food, Family and the American Way. Back on the job in a new century, Irma guides a new generation through the intricacies of food preservation. The science of canning has evolved significantly in the past 60 years and Irma’s on top of it. Recipes in this book reflect the most current and widely accepted food safety protocols.

Packed with photos, illustrations and ads from the 1950s – as well as typography from that era – the book looks old but the content is a lively blend that takes in everything from traditional bread-and-butter pickles to peach salsa. Bonus points for sections on canning methods, drying and smoking techniques, and resources for home food preservation. Not all readers will want to tackle canning – it’s not exactly a day at the beach – but they’ll probably all get a chuckle out of the photos of the 1950s housewife toiling away in the kitchen while wearing a dress, pearls, stockings and high heels. Good clean fun!

Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding, Marilyn McCray, soft cover, 256 pages, illustrations and photos, Octane Press, 2014; Available through Farm Collector Books: Call (866) 624-9388 or visit us online: Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding.

For the person interested in preserving garden-fresh produce, one big challenge is scheduling. The Irma Harding Calendar 2015 takes the guesswork out of that, giving advice on when to harvest fruits and vegetables, making it easy to know when to plan day-long canning sessions. The calendar also includes a set of 12 original recipes for jams, jellies and pickles from the newly released Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding: Recipes to Preserve Food, Family and the American Way – and each recipe is printed on a card designed to fit in standard recipe files. Large vintage photos accent each month’s calendar, showcasing life in the 1950s, when Irma Harding was spokeswoman for International Harvester appliances. A fun trip back in time!

Irma Harding Calendar 2015: 12 Months of Recipes to Preserve Food, Family and the American Way, wall calendar including 12 recipe cards, Octane Press, 2014. Available through Octane Press, (512) 334-9441; online at Octane Press. FC