For folks who find antique tractors too expensive to collect, the Ray Schmidgall family offers TractorCards. The collectors' cards feature color photographs of old tractors on the front, and statistics on the back.
TractorCards were first produced in 1991 by the publishers of a magazine for afficianados of John Deere machinery. The Schmidgalls of Mason, Mich., bought the business in 1992. Ray is assisted in the business by his wife, Barbara, and the couple's four daughters. The family has used income from the business to pay for mission trips to Ecuador, El Salvador and Spain.
The Schmidgalls typically produce three sets of cards each year, and issue an undisclosed, limited number of each set.
In 1997, they issued two sets of 15 cards featuring John Deere tractors from the 1930s and 1950s, and a 12-card set featuring Ford tractors.
In 1998, they plan to issue 15-card sets of John Deere tractors from the 1940s and Model G JD's, and a 12-card set of JD crawlers
In the past, they have featured Ford, Allis-Chalmers, Minneapolis and Oliver. Sets of 15 cards sell for $7, and 12-card sets for $6.
"If someone is looking for a picture of a tractor like they had on the farm when he was growing up, there's a high likelihood we will have one in one of our sets," Ray said.
Many sets from previous years remain available, but some of the earliest sets are sold out.
The Schmidgalls also offer uncut sheets of cards that contain 42 cards each. A sheet costs $25.
Collectors of TractorCards include "a lot of farmers, and a lot of people like my husband who grew up on a farm, and although they're not on the farm now, it's in their blood," Barbara said. FC
TractorCards are available by mail or from some implement dealers and sports card dealers. For more information, write: TractorCards, 1988 Willoughby Road, Mason, MI 48854; phone (517) 676-1835.
Dianne Beetler is a lifelong rural resident who enjoys writing about people with unusual collections.