Play Tractors, Serious Collectibles

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Rusty Hill & Grant Hill
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Variety of models
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John Deere 55EB

David Vail drove more than 500 miles from his home in Greenfield, Ind., to Woodsboro, Md., in the hopes of adding a Mohr Minneapolis-Moline G 705 to his farm toy collection.

‘Roger Mohr Originals is a small company in Vail, Iowa,’ he said. ‘They build limited editions that no one else produces. Back in November ’94 I ordered one of everything they made. So far I’ve got two. They make them and then they contact you and you pay for them. Roger Mohr died last fall.’

As it happened David was outbid on the G 705, but he took home a Mohr Simpson scale model Case tractor, of which only 150 were made.

‘I’ve been collecting for about 20 years,’ he said. ‘You get addicted, but it is an investment. This is a very good sale and Aumann’s is one of the best there is. I go to their auctions every year, but this is the furthest I’ve been.’

The auction, which was held at the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Company Activities Center, featured the very extensive farm toy collection of the late McComas Albaugh of Union Bridge, Md. More than 1,000 toys, plus a wide variety of farm literature, were sold off on Friday evening and all day Saturday. There were more than 250 registered bidders from 10 states, with a further 20 absentee bidders from 11 states and Canada.

Rusty Hill came prepared to add to his collection of John Deere models. The 11 year-old resident of Lisbon, Md., took a front row seat with his dad – dentist, farmer and collector Grant Hill. Rusty was obviously an experienced auction bidder.

‘I like shows, they’re interesting,’ Rusty said. ‘And I like the John Deeres. I think they’re unique. My favorite is the 8400. Dad and I work on the models. We  fix them and paint them. Maybe when I grow up I’ll collect real ones.’

Rusty’s dad shares his son’s enthusiasm for farm toys. ‘I grew up on a farm,’ he said. ‘I still have some of the toys I had as a kid 40 years ago. I collect 1/16 scale John Deeres. Rusty collects 1/64 scale. He also collects steam engines. We just started working together on a computer program. There is software available to catalog collections. He knows what’s going on.’

There was a dizzying variety of toys in the Albaugh collection. Most were tractors built to different scales but there were steam engines and plenty of farm equipment. Brand names such as John Deere, Cockshutt, Oliver, Farmall, McCormick, Allis Chalmers, International Harvester, Massey Harris, Massey Ferguson, Case and Rumely were well represented. Some were factory models but many were custom-built by such companies as Mohr Originals, Trumm, Ertl, Silk, Cottonwood Acres and Teeswater.

Bidding was brisk and many prices were in the three-figure range.

A Ferguson tractor and disc plow described as ‘extra nice, near mint’ sold for $1,125. An Ertl John Deere 430 with all original paint sold for $575, while a rare original Sheppard diesel tractor with painted filters, one side decal missing and all original paint, went for $325. A mint condition Farmall 806 with round fenders sold for $300 and a Caterpillar D-6 with bar grille and swinging drawbar (first version) fetched $225. A custom John Deere mixer mill was sold for $110.

But it was the custom-built models that really sparked the interest, with special attention to those bearing the Mohr name. A Mohr M 604 FWA sold for $900 while a Mohr Minneapolis-Moline M 5 wide front went for $500. A Mohr Minneapolis Moline Z with clam shell fenders sold for $450. Other Mohr models included an MM Jet Star 2, an MM 5 Star Gas, wide and narrow front versions of the MM M 602 and an MM UTC. Prices for these models ranged from $375 to $475. Trumm models were also hot items. A John Deere 8020 fetched $875 while a John Deere WA-14 brought $750.

A rare SP-100 self-propelled combine built by Cottonwood Acres sold for $400. A Minneapolis-Moline corn sheller, also by Cottonwood Acres, brought in $375. Each model had some damage, but this didn’t deter the bidders. A Minneapolis Moline Jet Star orchard tractor built by Jeff Cerroll sold for $700 while a Berg Massey Ferguson 98 went for $350.

And then there were the boxes. Most collectors know that the box is at least as important as the model it holds. Many of the models on display were boxed in their original containers and a box lot of boxes sold at the conclusion of the sale.

Lot #400 was advertised as ‘box only  for John Deere 60, nice square box, good color’ while lot #401 was listed as ‘John Deere 60, 70 percent.’

The box sold for $100. The tractor went for $90.

At the end of six hours, the auction crowd had thinned out from an initial 200 to about 20 die-hard bidders. Donald Shoemaker of Taneytown, Md., stayed to the end.

‘We’re friends of the Albaugh family,’ he said. ‘It’s a shame to see the collection sold, but I’m glad the sale was local. A lot of family friends were able to buy the toys.’

Leroy Coshun of Keymar, Md., was happy with such a successful day. ‘The sale was fantastic,’ he said. ‘And I got the two tractors I wanted, the 122 Cub Cadet and the Farmall 806. It was a great day.’

Jill Teunis is a frequent contributor to Farm Collector who lives and works in Damascus, Md.

Collecting Farm Toy Literature

Collectors always want as much information as they can possibly find about the items that are dear to their hearts, which is why they seek old catalogs, fliers, advertisements and brochures relating to their particular interest. More than 200 packets of farm literature from the McComas Albaugh collection were sold to enthusiastic bidders during the toy auction.

A.K. Kissell of Newark, Delaware, is a retired vocational agricultural teacher who collects information on tractors and engines.

‘I put books together for my own interest,’ he said as he waited for the literature auction to start. ‘I am particularly interested in Porsche-Diesel, Bungartz and Deutz. I’ve been involved with tractors all my life and I go to a couple of dozen shows a year.’

According to Don Matthews, one of the Aumann auctioneers who conduct ed the literature sale, antique tractor literature brings in high prices because of its scarcity.

‘We had a Minneapolis Moline G-100 Vista pamphlet that went for $130,’ he said. ‘That’s a top price. The most popular literature is John Deere, Cockshutt, Minneapolis Moline and Oliver. Catalogs from the 60s can bring as much as $60 to $100. Company magazines sell and calendars that are pre-1960s bring good prices.’

Average prices for lots at the Albaugh literature auction were in the $50 range, with 208 lots listed. A 1970 Oliver Better Farming publication sold for $95, while a Cockshutt-White Better Farming publication also dated 1970 brought in $70. A 1906 Johnson Harvesting Company full-line catalog sold for $75, and a selection of Oliver 550 row-crop and industrial brochures fetched $80.

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