Almost as Good as Actual Farm Equipment

Farm equipment postcards offer attractive alternative to shed full of old iron

| June 2005

Are your sheds getting full and you haven't yet finished collecting? You might think about collecting farm equipment postcards. They require little storage space, you can keep them in the house, they don't have to be dusted, and they cost less than the real thing.

The people who collect farm equipment postcards aren't going to be happy that I tell you this. They want to keep it their little secret. But I think there are enough cards to go around: You just have to look for them!

Dallas Petersen of Villisca, Iowa, is sold on postcards. He has been collecting for five years and has 115 Allis cards, 90 miscellaneous cards and 18 farm equipment cards. He also has cards to trade. "I have 14 pieces of large Allis equipment, but cards don't take up much room," he says. "And when you find a different card, it doesn't take a trailer to get it home."

What kind of postcards are you going to find? In American Advertising Postcards: Sets and Series, 1890-1920, by Frederic H. Megson, the following categories are identified as being among the earliest of farm equipment and farm-related cards: steel fences by American, Corbett, DeKalb, Pittsburgh and Union companies; horse blankets by Ayres and Phoenix companies; horseshoes by the Phoenix company; fertilizer by Buffalo, German Kall, Hubbard and Royster companies; cream separators by Empire, Melotte and Sharples; gas engines by Brown, Bruce-MacBeth, Huber and Aultman & Taylor; machinery/equipment by Hart-Parr, International, Rumely and Case; and road rollers by Kelly Springfield and Monarch. You'll also find a lot of single cards from the years leading up to 1920.

After the 1920s, when Allis-Chalmers bought out Rumely, Allis-Chalmers continued Rumely's postcard promotions. That period also is the time when John Deere, Ford, Minneapolis-Moline and other manufacturers began producing postcards. Since no one has documented the cards available, surprises are found every time you look.

Brad Carlson, Janesville, Minn., has a varied collection numbering more than 2,000 cards. Brad's dad has been an Allis-Chalmers collector since Brad was a boy. About 12 years ago, Brad's father got into Allis postcards. Five years ago, Brad started looking for cards for his father … but he didn't limit himself to Allis. His father, though, remains a specialist. "To my dismay, he was not interested in them if they were not Allis-Chalmers," he says. "I found many interesting tractor cards of other brands, and it sort of took off from there."