This fall, a man decided to sell a couple old tractors and donate the proceeds, with a best-guess value of $5,000, to charity. But when the auction crew gave the tractors a close look, they turned up something out of the ordinary. One of the tractors – a 1928 John Deere GP – was, in fact, the very first cultivating tractor produced by Deere & Co.
Deere manufactured the GP series from 1928 to 1935. The serial number on this one (200211) confirmed that it was Deere’s first regular production row-crop tractor. Suddenly we are talking about what my father would have referred to as “a horse of a different color.”
A tractor of considerable historic significance, this one belonged to a man who probably figured he’d clear out his shed and make a modest donation to a good cause. When one of the tractors turned out to be incredibly rare, nobody would have faulted him for reconsidering that donation and pocketing a windfall.
In the end, nobody had to, because the tractor’s owner (who prefers to remain anonymous) didn’t give it a second thought. The GP remained on the auction, and the church remained the beneficiary. On Oct. 28, the rare tractor would be sold at Aumann Auctions’ Fall Harvest Antique Tractor Auction in Nokomis, Illinois.
After an opening bid of $30,500, the GP sold less than five minutes later for $78,750 (the buyer also chooses to remain anonymous). In an article that appeared in The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Illinois, Rev. James Jones of the Taylorville Christian Church said that the proceeds would go toward an $850,000 building program designed to create a space for large gatherings and house the church’s youth ministry. “It’s just a real blessing to the church,” he said.
The tractor’s discovery hit the John Deere collector world like a brick in the face, auctioneer Kurt Aumann told the Journal-Register. “Tractor collecting has been around for 50 years, and you hear often that all the good stuff has been found,” he said. “Well, this just kind of keeps the dream alive.”