First Things


| July 2000


If you are a collector of vintage farm equipment, Burma-Shave signs are a part of that fond look back. An article in this issue recalls the important connection between the farmer and the Burma-Vita company, particularly during the Depression, when cash-strapped farmers depended on cash stipends paid for sign placements.

The Burma Shave signs were a national delight: Wordsmiths throughout the country enjoyed the challenge of crafting clever com positions; the motoring public relished the touch of humor that lightened road trips. Children learned to read by sounding out words on the signs; heavy-footed drivers slowed to read the signs; and the company enjoyed the results of one of the most successful advertising promotions of all time.

Brevity, the poet says, is the soul of wit, and never was that truer than with Burma-Shave jingles. One of my personal favorites: 'Within this vale/of Toil/and Sin/Your Head Grows Bald/But Not Your Chin: Use/Burma-Shave.

The first Burma-Shave signs were erected in 1926, 15 years after several of George Schaaf 's huge gasoline tractors were built. Another article in this issue features George's unique collection of tractors. It's hard to tell what he likes better: their size, or their unusual characteristics. Either way, you'll get a charge out of the one-of-a-kind pieces in his one-of-a-kind collection.

Rare birds are in abundant supply in this issue: Check out the only known Shaw gasoline engine, the Victor Traction Gear Company, and duckbill clippers. You'll even find an article on a collection of tobacco items from western Missouri, just about as far west as tobacco is grown in this country.

Meanwhile, we're scrambling to bring you even more stories about interesting collections. like you, we'll be on the road this summer, dropping in on shows, viewing private collections, visiting with collectors all over the country. What's on tap? Upcoming issues will include articles on a cider mill operated with vintage equipment, Caterpillar's 75th anniversary celebration, farm toys, salesman's samples, and more. Where else can you find the variety Farm Collector delivers? Brings to mind another favorite Burma-Shave sign:






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