Gift-Worthy Old Iron Books
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Farm Tractor Classics by Lee Klancher, 2008, hardcover, 6-1/2-by-6-1/2 inches, 400 pages, color photos, MBI Publishing Co., $20, available through the Farm Collector Store.
You don’t have to be a steam enthusiast to crack the cover of The Steam Tractor Encyclopedia. If you have any interest at all in antique farm equipment, farm practices of the late 1800s and American history in general, this book is required reading. Showcasing John R. Spalding’s collection of historic photographs of steam engines and Dr. Robert T. Rhode’s, well, encyclopedic knowledge of steam tractor history, this new release gives a stunning look at the steam engine during its glory days of the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The book is divided into four sections: portable steam engines, steam traction engines, gasoline and kerosene tractors, and gasoline engines. The bulk of it, however, deals with steam engines and manufacturers: tales of lawsuits, feuds, alliances, tragedies, disasters and corporate skullduggery. Lengthy passages on prominent manufacturers like A.B. Farquhar, A.D. Baker, William Heilman and Oliver S. Kelly give fascinating insights into the makeup of the early American industrialist, his values and motivations.
You’ll feel like a kid in a candy shop as you attempt to absorb the images, which spread over every page like a tablecloth. Plan on making two passes, one to examine the photos; a second to read the text. It’ll be time well spent.
The Steam Tractor Encyclopedia: Glory Days of the Invention that Changed Farming Forever by John F. Spalding and Dr. Robert T. Rhode, 2008, hardcover, 9-by-12 inches, 256 pages, black-and-white photos, Voyageur Press, $40, available through the Farm Collector Store.
Calendar and videos
Time flies: Keep a grip on it with the Classic Farm Tractors calendar. John Harvey’s calendars are always well done but his 2009 release – celebrating the 20th in the series – is a real gem. Spanning more than 80 years, the tractors showcased on each calendar page are immaculately restored, beautifully staged and supported by intriguing nuggets of information. The array of equipment tells a fascinating story of the evolution of tractor design and manufacture, and Mike Hood’s handsome photography is a joy to view.