A Lifetime Collection of Old Ads

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

| January 2014

New Holland Promo Ad

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

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.