Minneapolis-Moline More Than Just Tractors

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Dan Shima with his MM calendar collection. His oldest calendar – dates 1899 – is issued by the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company
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If it has Minneapolis-Moline on it, chances are it's in Dan Shima's collection. Dan enjoys displaying pieces from his collection at shows and special events.

Dan Shima is sold on Minneapolis-Moline. For many years, Dan (who lives in Eldridge, Iowa) has loved MM tractors and memorabilia. While he’s been an avid MM fan since childhood, not until 1975 – when he attended his first antique tractor pull – did he really start collecting tractors again.

One tractor that has always been a sentimental part of his collection is the RTU that Dan’s father bought new in 1940. Dan was just 4 that year, but he took a spin behind the wheel of the RTU, which was attached to a hay loader. The following summer, Dan’s older brother came down with the measles, and 5-year-old Dan drove the RTU on the oat binder, helping harvest the crop.

Besides the RTU, Dan also owns an experimental tractor — the YT – one of only about 30 made. His collection also includes one of the most beautiful tractors ever made: the UDLX, better known as “The Comfort Tractor.” He has two, including the last one ever built.

Dan’s hobby ran into a glitch when he started running out of shed room. He hasn’t quit adding new tractors to his collection, but he has shifted his focus to include less bulky items such as literature and memorabilia.

Among his prizes are calendars (see related story, Every Picture Tells A Story). He has MM wall calendars from 1934, 1937, 1943, 1945-48, and 1951-57. Minneapolis-Moline also made yearbook calendars from 1930-1958: he has a complete volume of those, which he often displays at shows.

Last summer’s search for new additions to his collection proved fruitful.

“I haven’t been out scouting or looking,” Dan says, “but by chance I ran across the first issue, which was restarted in 1938 and was called The MM Dealer then.”

Among his most prized possessions is a full volume of The Minneapolis-Moline Merchandiser (which was published from 1940 to 1958). The Merchandiser followed The Dealer, which was dropped in 1940. Dan also has some Twin City and MM calendars predating the merger, and he even has a rare 1899 calendar from the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company, which produced harvest equipment. When that company joined forces with the Moline Plow company (which built tillage equipment), and later with Twin City (which produced tractors), Minneapolis-Moline was able to offer a full line.

Meticulously stored in acid-free material, Dan’s literature collection is well preserved for the next century. In addition to literature, he has several MM signs (including two so rare he’s never seen any others like them) and banners. He also has a variety of hats, toys and miscellaneous items produced by Minneapolis-Moline over the years. Many of the pieces in his collection – like service awards, for instance – have come from former MM employees, who also provide invaluable information about the company. He knows the history and intricacies of the company inside-out. He was even “in on the ground floor” when the Minneapolis-Moline Collectors Club was formed.

The restored equipment, literature, memorabilia and memories are interwoven into a vast web of relationships. For Dan, clearly, it is those stories and friendships that provide a collector’s special joy. FC

Cindy Ladage is a freelance writer based in Virden, III.

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