Persistence pays-in 'gold'


| August 2002



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Bob CroweGold-leaf model D John Deere tractor

Some rumors turn out to be true. Such is the case with the gold-leaf model D John Deere, created in 1937 to help celebrate Deere & Company's centennial year.

A Sept. 3, 1938, story in Implement & Tractor magazine confirmed the rumor of such a tractor was true and sparked an Indiana collector's search for the long-forgotten showpiece that finally ended successfully eight years ago in Kingfisher County, Okla.

The magazine article was found in 1989 by custom toy builders Dennis Parker and the late Lyle Dingman of Iowa in the files at Deere & Company, Moline, 111. It told the tale of why the tractor was created and of how, after the festivities concluded, the glittery machine was put on display at the Kansas City branch - and up for sale.

Francis Gooden of Josiah Gooden and Son, the John Deere dealer in Kingfisher, Okla., spied the gold tractor while it was on display in Kansas City and put in a bid. Reportedly, other dealers bid on it too, but Deere & Company awarded the tractor to Gooden because his dealer ship's 1937 tractor sales record was so outstanding.

The gold D arrived in Oklahoma just in time for another celebration - the Gooden dealership's 25th anniversary -and after that event concluded, the tractor again went up for sale. This time, it was offered to the first comer at the regular price of a model D; a race ensued between two customers, JJ. Haffner and G.D. Hancock, with Hancock coming out the winner.

The 1938 I&T article quotes then-owner Hancock as swearing that 'the gold on it somehow makes the fields cultivated with it produce bigger yields.' At the time, he was using the tractor to pull his combine and plow on a half-section of wheat. Reports are that he worked the tractor hard until 1955, when he traded it in - at the local Massey-Harris dealer ship.