First Things

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Memories Of A Former Kid

I‘ve been to a bunch of shows this summer, and
I didn’t see much new. Thank goodness!

Call me a dinosaur (shoot, all the teenagers I know do … I
assume it’s a term of endearment!). I love the way you can go to a
show and leave the modern world behind. I like old stuff. I like
the imperfect surface of rusty cast iron, the sandblasted feel of
sun-bleached wood. Equipment in original condition fascinates me;
ancient casting numbers and names speak to me in solemn tones. I
like nothing better than to see faint ghosts of original paint on
old equipment, manufacturers’ names just clear enough to be

I know, of course, that to a serious collector, condition
matters. Many who’ve amassed very fine collections counsel the
novice to focus on the best quality he or she can possibly afford.
Pick up duplicates; spin off those that are inferior. Pay top
dollar for quality. Those are the rules.

There’s no denying that an immaculately restored tractor, a
flawless porcelain sign, a piece of ephemera in mint condition or a
vintage toy new in the box have great appeal. Who among us isn’t
drawn to the shine of perfection? Increasingly, though, I find
myself gravitating to the porcelain sign that’s been used for a bit
of target practice. The stationary engine with a dull coat of color
beneath a film of oil beckons, as do jumbles of rusty iron at a
swap meet.

Each relic has a story. Many of those stories are mundane,
ordinary tales; nearly all remain mysteries. But it’s easy to
imagine; easy to wander back to a time when a family’s life savings
went into the purchase of that first tractor … to picture the farm
wife who cherished a brightly-colored wall calendar her husband
brought home from the dealership … to marvel at the sheer power of
a steam engine, and the labor it performed.

Lest I sound too noble, too nostalgic, let me go on the record
here: When it comes to collectibles, my budget does not allow
perfection. But I’d like to think I’ve made a conscious choice. If
tomorrow I won the lottery, chances are good that my tastes would
stay about the same. What’s new? For me, not much. And I wouldn’t
have it any other way.

PS: Don’t forget to send us your show photos for publication in
the February issue of Farm Collector! Your deadline is
Nov. 1. For details, see page 2 in the October issue.

Leslie McManus, Editor

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment