Between the Bookends: Four Farm Equipment Book Reviews for 2008

Four books for old iron collectors: C.H. Wendel, farm tractors, John Deere history and historic farmhouses of the Midwest.


| July 2008



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1. Prepare to drift through the wonder of a lost era when you take up C.H. Wendel's newest book, American Industrial Machinery Since 1870. Echoing the heft and format of his previous tomes on farm tractors and gas engines, the new book presents a stunning collection of art and information all but impossible to find elsewhere.

Industrial Machinery is divided into sections addressing construction machinery, machine tools, printing machinery, sawmill machinery and steam engines. A fraction of the author's vast collection of engravings and illustrations give life to machines once considered not only the cutting edge of technology but likely the best that would ever be. The optimism of the turn-of-the-century mood shines brightly and Wendel's careful research lends clarity and context.

The book's focused yet diverse subject matter offers the collector of old iron an exceptional resource. If you've ever tinkered with a century-old sawmill, marveled over a stationary steam exhibit at a show, considered bidding on a piece of old shop equipment or become intrigued by antique construction machinery, you know how hard it is to find information on such relics. Whether you're in that camp or simply fascinated by a golden era, you'll find Wendel's new book a rare treat.

American Industrial Machinery Since 1870 by C.H. Wendel, published 2008 by The Prairie Press, 4415 F St., Amana, IA 52203; 416 pages, hardcover, black and white illustrations.

2. A new book by tractor historian Larry Gay may seem to have a focus a bit modern for these pages. But Farm Tractors 1995-2005 is in fact the capstone of a series tracing the history and evolution of the farm tractor. The new release completes the set published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers: The Agricultural Tractor 1855-1950, Farm Tractors 1950-1975 and Farm Tractors 1975-1995 (also authored by Gay).

Gay's book opens with a concise overview of trendsetting tractors in the last 100 years and then shifts gears to the current era. New models introduced each year from 1995 to 2005 are described, including Nebraska Tractor Test results, industry retail sales figures and information on company mergers and buyouts (and photos of each series). Rich in data, Farm Tractors 1995-2005 also delivers detailed charts on manufacturers and brand names as well as model charts for each brand.