Great Ideas for Old Iron Gifts

Having trouble finding Christmas gifts for the old iron enthusiasts in your life? Check out these suggestions from the staff of Farm Collector.

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Great Ideas For Gift-Giving

Paintings Showcase Authentic Tractors 

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Looking for a timeless treasure for your home? Original paintings by Russell Sonnenberg capture the essence of old iron without sacrificing historical accuracy.

With more than 60 years’ experience, Sonnenberg knows his subject matter, and it shows. The artist spends a minimum of 100 hours on each painting, ensuring that each is more than a pretty picture. More than 60 of Sonnenberg’s paintings have been showcased in a display in the Kossuth County Agricultural & Motorsports Museum, Algona, Iowa. 

Minneapolis-Moline, Ford, Oliver, Allis-Chalmers, Farmall, Case, Gleaner, John Deere, International, White and New Holland tractors and equipment are featured in Sonnenberg paintings available through Meg’s Art World.

Russell Sonnenberg paintings, available online at www.megsartworld.com; (866) 283-6528.

 

A Great Stocking Stuffer! 

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Produced as part of the 25th anniversary of the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club (ACMOC), this 1/16 scale Caterpillar Twenty Five is historically accurate and highly detailed. A continuation of the existing ACMOC 1/16 scale collection, this piece would make a handsome addition to any collection!

A special, limited-edition silver-painted anniversary tractor is being offered exclusively to ACMOC members. A serialized run of 500 has been produced; each is packaged in a numbers-matching commemorative tin box.

Online at www.acmoc.org; email: cat@acmoc.org; (309) 691-5002.


Have Book, Will Travel!

tractors 

Produced as part of the 25th anniversary of the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club (ACMOC), this 1/16 scale Caterpillar Twenty Five is historically accurate and highly detailed. A continuation of the existing ACMOC 1/16 scale collection, this piece would make a handsome addition to any collection! 

A special, limited-edition silver-painted anniversary tractor is being offered exclusively to ACMOC members. A serialized run of 500 has been produced; each is packaged in a numbers-matching commemorative tin box.  

Online at www.acmoc.org; email: cat@acmoc.org; (309) 691-5002.


Covering New Ground: America’s Earliest Lawn Mowers 

mower 

The garden tractor category is a growing, vibrant niche under the “old iron” umbrella. But it is altogether separate from the category James B. Ricci explores with the passion of an archaeologist in Hand, Horse, and Motor: The Development of the Lawn Mower Industry in the United States.

Mechanized garden tractors are largely a post-World War II phenomena. Ricci, on the other hand, is consumed by mowers produced in this country as early as 1855, and on up to 1942 (except for military requirements, he notes, American lawn mower production was suspended on June 30, 1942, until the war’s end). The earliest models resemble what we think of today as reel mowers and were pushed in the same manner. Bigger outfits were drawn by horses; later, engines were added. 

Initially a tool only the affluent could afford, the lowly lawn mower evolved to meet a changing culture. Even by the 1880s, Americans had more disposable income and more leisure time, time to cut grass and time to play on it: with neatly managed turf came widespread adoption of baseball, cricket, golf, football and lawn bowling.

Ricci’s careful research provides rich detail on nearly 200 individuals or companies that produced lawn mowers in the U.S. between 1855 and 1942. In the same way a 1-inch rain makes a lawn shoot up overnight, a wealth of anecdotes, patents, photographs and ephemera bring the topic of early mowers to life. 

Hand, Horse, and Motor: The Development of the Lawn Mower Industry in the United States, 2016, James B. Ricci, 244 pages, 8-1/2-by-11 inches, soft cover, black-and-white vintage line art, $32, North Farms Press, www.reellawnmower.com.


The Original Classic Farm Tractors Calendar 2017

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timeless treasures 

Especially great photos are showcased in the 2017 edition of John Harvey’s Original Classic Farm Tractors Calendar. Photographers Mike Hood, Brian Baxter, Keith Hamilton and Brad Bulla bent over backward, went airborne and practically made snow angels in an effort to get the best shots of a dynamic dozen vintage tractors.

Each of the tractors featured in the 2017 calendar are making their debut: None has ever previously been included in a Classic Farm Tractors calendar. Several will make your jaw drop, including a 1923 Waterloo Boy in its original work clothes (you don’t see that every day), an original 1984 White 2-88, a rare 1941 Minneapolis-Moline ZTS, and a rarely seen 1970 Versatile D118. 

Bonus material includes a feature on the 1966 Black Jack, a one-of-a-kind tractor home-built by Robert “Jack” McCabe and another on the 8th annual Mackinac Antique Tractor Bridge Crossing in 2015. The Classic Farm Tractors crew covered the procession of 1,091 from the ground and the air. Can’t get enough? A companion DVD, Timeless Treasures, is packed with in-depth interviews of the owners of each calendar tractor.

Classic Farm Tractors 2017 calendar and Timeless Treasures DVD, full color, 14-by-10 inches, Kalendae Communications, available at www.classictractors.com; (800) 888-8979.

 

Farmall Calendar 2017 By Lee Klancher 

calendar 

Especially great photos are showcased in the 2017 edition of John Harvey’s Original Classic Farm Tractors Calendar. Photographers Mike Hood, Brian Baxter, Keith Hamilton and Brad Bulla bent over backward, went airborne and practically made snow angels in an effort to get the best shots of a dynamic dozen vintage tractors. 

Each of the tractors featured in the 2017 calendar are making their debut: None has ever previously been included in a Classic Farm Tractors calendar. Several will make your jaw drop, including a 1923 Waterloo Boy in its original work clothes (you don’t see that every day), an original 1984 White 2-88, a rare 1941 Minneapolis-Moline ZTS, and a rarely seen 1970 Versatile D118.

Bonus material includes a feature on the 1966 Black Jack, a one-of-a-kind tractor home-built by Robert “Jack” McCabe and another on the 8th annual Mackinac Antique Tractor Bridge Crossing in 2015. The Classic Farm Tractors crew covered the procession of 1,091 from the ground and the air. Can’t get enough? A companion DVD, Timeless Treasures, is packed with in-depth interviews of the owners of each calendar tractor. 

Classic Farm Tractors 2017 calendar and Timeless Treasures DVD, full color, 14-by-10 inches, Kalendae Communications, available at
www.classictractors.com; (800) 888-8979.

 

Resource for the Barbed Wire Enthusiast

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In The Point of it All, author James R. Newman presents a thoroughly documented and researched history of the designs of antique barbed wire fencing. He describes hundreds of patents and more than 2,000 patent design variations found in antique barbed wire. Every variety is covered, from mild steel barbed wire strands to sheet metal barbed strips, barbed metal rods and barbed wooden rails. 

Barbed wire fencing evolved from the wooden fences and plain wire fences of the 1850s. Major growth occurred from the late 1860s and mid-1870s on to the early 1900s, when inventors in the Midwest and Northeast designed hundreds of new ways to corral livestock. Using U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records and other sources, Newman describes how inventors considered their patent designs unique, what their purpose was and what factors influenced changes in those designs over time.

Common patterns found in the structure and form of these designs are also described. Because of the complexity of those designs, Newman provides a proposed classification system for antique barbed wire fencing that can be used to sort, organize and index patents into groups. A fine resource for collectors and historians alike! 

The Point of it All: Understanding Designs and Variations in Antique Barbed Wire Fencing, 2016, James R. Newman, 338 pages, soft cover, 8-by-10 inches, black-and-white graphs and illustrations, $30, Astragal Press, (866) 543-3045; www.astragalpress.com.


Handbags Packed with History 

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Looking for a gift for the lady in your life? Check out two lines of handbags by Selina Vaughan. Vintage images of Farmall and International Harvester equipment, licensed by Case IH, are featured on one series of bags; vintage seed sacks are repurposed in the other series.

Selina Vaughan has been designing and producing handbags since 2000. While visiting the Midwest, she discovered old seed and feed sacks in an antique shop, and a new line was inspired. “My goal is to make things that are practical and fun, reusing vintage items and recreating them to be used in a different light,” she says. “My current project uses vintage seed bags from the 1940s and ’50s.” Each bag is a handcrafted original. Prices vary according to the rarity of the sack and complexity of construction. 

Selina Vaughan Studios, www.selinavaughan.etsy.com; www.facebook.com/selinavaughanstudios.

 

California’s Role in Every Tractor Development

handbags 

Midwesterners are awash in so much history pertaining to early tractor manufacture by giants like Deere & Co. and International Harvester that they sometimes forget there was enormous manufacturing activity in California at the same time. Jack Alexander’s lavishly researched book, California’s Thirst for Tractors, makes it clear that California played a huge role in early development of steam engines and tractors.

Californian Benjamin Holt developed the first successful track-type farm tractor in 1905. Californian Daniel Best was a pioneer in design and manufacture of steam traction engines. In 1925, Best and Holt merged to form an enduring market leader, Caterpillar. 

Those were the giants. But hundreds of small operations produced everything from the spike-wheeled Fageol to the Yuba Ball Tread. As Alexander’s research shows, there were even plans for a California Convertible Tractor – not with a rag top, but capable of being configured as either a wheel tractor or a tracklayer.

Alexander has compiled vast amounts of material uncovered from early newspapers and magazines into an unbelievably deep collection of tractors produced (or at least conceived) in California. Read an interview of C.L. Best from 1911; learn about the design process of the Bean Trackpull. Gorge on details in the coverage of 1914 field trials where Yuba Ball Tread, Samson and Caterpillar showed their stuff.

This is no coffee table book. Visually, it’s page after page of passages from newspapers and magazines accompanied by simple reproductions of sometimes grainy but still adequate photos. By and large, Alexander does not interpret; he leaves that to the reader. Start at the beginning and go cover to cover, or dip in and out at will. Either way, you’ll enjoy a stunning and fascinating historical account of dozens and dozens of early tractors in one state during an exciting period of technological advancement.

California’s Thirst for Tractors: The History of the Tractor in California (1857-1961), 2016, Jack Alexander, 410 pages, soft cover, 8-1/2-by-11 inches, black-and-white vintage line art and historic photos, $24.50, www.lulu.com.