A Lifetime Collection of Old Ads

Greenwich, Ohio, collector builds lifetime collection of old ads for tractors and farm machinery.

| January 2014

  • This ad from a series of New Holland promotional material dating to the late 1950s and early ’60s is typical of pieces from the era, when ads more commonly featured members of the farm family.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks
  • Allis-Chalmers developed this series of educational flyers in the 1950s to promote the company’s line of equipment.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks
  • These Massey Ferguson advertisements from the 1960s include both tractors and machinery.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks
  • This 1961 John Deere ad uses a postage stamp theme to display a variety of tractors and equipment.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks
  • Photo from International Harvester ads from the 1960s show tractors working in the field.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks
  • Photo from International Harvester ads from the 1960s show tractors working in the field.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks
  • This ad for a self-propelled John Deere Model 45 combine showcases the unit’s versatility.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks
  • Tim Putt with one of his puzzles. Although Tim and his wife, Betty, are avid collectors of John Deere 2-cylinder tractors, their collection of vintage advertising includes all brands.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks
  • Tim Putt with one of his puzzles. Although Tim and his wife, Betty, are avid collectors of John Deere 2-cylinder tractors, their collection of vintage advertising includes all brands.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks
  • This Putt-Putt puzzle captures an Allis-Chalmers field day. It is on display in the Putts’ home.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks
  • The famed Waterloo Boy tractor is featured in this ad from the Jan. 10, 1929, issue of Country Gentleman magazine.
    Photo Courtesy Fred Hendricks

If you’re tracing the evolution of farming in the past century, farm equipment advertising materials give a useful overview. In the early 1900s, manufacturers touted the advantages of mechanized equipment – especially in comparison to farming with horses.

By the 1950s, advertising copy focused on bigger, more powerful units. And while big equipment is still a selling point, today’s promotional messages push increasingly sophisticated technology.

Those old ads are more than a history lesson for Tim Putt, Greenwich, Ohio. “I always wanted to farm so I spent countless hours as a kid looking through my dad’s farm magazines,” he says. “When I was 7 or 8, I started going with Dad to the local farm machinery dealers. I took home as much sales literature as they let me have. I also started collecting advertisements. The early ads were mostly black and white. But the color ads really caught my attention when they started showing up. Those tractors shown off in bright colors were really special.”

Over time, Tim’s stash of advertising and literature grew. If it was related to farm equipment, he squirreled it away. “There was always free promotional stuff,” he says. “I couldn’t stand to throw it away. I’ve kept all the old tractor manuals that went with the equipment my parents and my wife, Betty, and I have farmed with.”        



Managing a collection

Eventually, Tim knew he had to get a grip. “Very early I had to decide if I was collecting or just hoarding,” he admits. “I made the decision to collect selected pieces and not keep everything.” His collection of old ads covers a wide time span. Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, Tim is especially fond of equipment and literature from that era. He’s also a fan of local ties. “Our community of Greenwich, Ohio, is where the Centaur tractor was manufactured,” he explains. “Naturally, I have quite a bit of their promotional information. The Plymouth and then Silver King tractor were made a short distance away at Plymouth, Ohio, so I’ve gathered up some of their publicity.”

Collectors like the Putts routinely scour the area when hunting for the next addition to their collection. “Betty and I farm over 1,000 acres but we have available time during the off-seasons,” Tim says. “We’re constantly on the hunt or developing aspects of the hobby during slack times.” The couple has had good luck with flea markets, antique malls, estate sales, farm machinery auctions and paper dealers. “Betty is really good at spotting unusual items whenever we’re on the hunt,” he says.