Chasing Farm Literature

Collectors find old farm literature irresistible and invaluable.

| May 2000

Farm literature can be collected for many reasons: to prove who invented what first; to accurately build or restore real machinery or farm toys; for information; to keep up with a particular line of machinery; for nostalgia; for the value of the literature; for profit; or simply for the love of it. But whichever poison is yours, most collectors will agree with Clarence Goodburn's wry statement. "It's a sickness, and there's no inoculation for it," the Madelia, Minn., man laughs. 

Is Too! Is Not! Is Too!...

Quint Precht of rural Hector, Minn., says he began to collect farm literature to prove which products were invented first. As he was growing up, the majority of the farmers in his family's area used John Deere tractors.

"But we were the oddballs with the orange, Allis-Chalmers tractors," he says, "because we had had good luck with them."

John Deere lovers gave him a rough time, and jeered at Quint's defense of Allis-Chalmers.

"I said, 'I can show you something here in literature to prove that Allis-Chalmers came up with ideas before John Deere thought of them.' Allis had a lot of things first. In the 1940s they worked on a skid-steer tractor; a couple of years later, they added a bucket to it and made the first skid-steer loader. It didn't work out for them because they were trying to use it as a field tractor. The power-director clutch is an Allis-Chalmers first, allowing you to shift between two speeds without the clutch. I used my farm literature to show people who didn't believe me that Allis-Chalmers was sometimes just too far advanced for their time."

He says he has about 100 pieces of literature about Allis-Chalmers machinery. The oldest is on the 1936 WC Allis tractor. But he collects all kinds of literature.