Early Winners: 10 Hardest-to-Find Cast Iron Farm Toys

According to collectors, the earliest farm toys were made of cast iron and are the hardest to find.

| August 2008

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    John Deere Vindex thresher.
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    John Deere hay loader manufactured by Vindex: one of the hobby’s rarest.
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    Wilkins mower. The Willkins cast iron toys were teh first farm toys to be commercially produced.
  • JohnDeere.jpg
    John Deere combine with the standing man by Vindex.

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  • Wilkinsmower.jpg
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The earliest farm toys were made of cast iron and are the hardest to find, according to longtime collectors Ray Lactorin, Stillwater, Minn., and Jon Sheets, Zumbrota, Minn. Generally 1/16-scale, these are listed in no particular order (click through the Image Gallery to see example toys):

1-4. Wilkins hay tedder, Wilkins hay rake, Wilkins sulky plow and Wilkins hay mower. Manufactured in 1886 by Wilkins Toy Co., Keene, N.H., these are the first farm toys ever produced commercially. The tedder, used to spread and dry hay, is the hardest to find, Ray says, followed by the plow, dump rake and mower.

5. Arcade Oliver Superior spreader, New in Box (NIB). A very difficult toy to find, Jon says, manufactured by Arcade Mfg. Co., Freeport, Ill.

6. Vindex Case hay loader. Vindex toys were manufactured by National Sewing Machine Co., Belvidere, Ill., as a means of keeping skilled workers from defecting during the Great Depression. Sold as premiums for Farm Mechanics magazine, Nos. 6-9 required three three-year subscriptions and No. 10 required five.

7. Vindex John Deere hay loader. 

8. Vindex Van Brunt grain drill. 


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