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Collecting Antique Farm Machinery

Updated on January 21, 2019
Stacie L profile image

Stacie L has been in the antiques and collectibles business most of her life. She learned from her mom, an antique dealer.

Farm Machinery Collectors


There is a growing interest in collecting today and antique farm machinery is no exception. Collectors of these farm staples have their favorites. Locating these items and restoring them to their original condition is a much loved challenge.


Some decisions take careful consideration before starting a collection. The first decision to make is choosing the type of machine. Another decision is the time period. Will it be a primitive antique farm machine such as a wooden corn sheller or something like the more modern mechanized sheller? How about the late 1860's, when the steam engine powered tractor was first implemented. Steam engines are very large and parts are a challenge to locate. You will need ample room for this assemblage. Or will you look for a newer brand, such as John Deere post World War 2.

Trash to Treasure

When driving through a rural area, one will undoubtedly see tractors, hay balers, or other machines sitting in a field or behind a barn just rusting away. I used to see these where ever I went, in Kentucky,Tennessee and Indiana. They were abandoned and ignored for many years, just waiting for someone to rescue them.

You may be surprised to see how they look once restored to their original glory.Restorers spend many hours, or years and of course, money, to bring back the once treasured piece of machinery.

There are parades in communities ,showing off their pride and joy.

Tractor Parade

Rare antique farm machinery would be desirable if it were intact and good condition, which isn't very likely. The rarest and earliest machines started in the early 1700's and would probably be found in a museum.


Finding machines from the mid to late 1800's may be more of a challenge and expense than those of the 1900's. The early 1900's were starting factory mass production of farm machinery, so parts are may be more abundant. Most restorers want something they can find parts for, as in other collectibles. Unless you are mechanical and can reproduce a part and have deep pockets, finding a more popular machine is a wise choice.

Of course, the most popular pieces are the larger ones, such as the tractors and threshers. The most sought out and popular tractors that collectors desire are John Deere, Ford, International Harvester Inc., Massey Harris, and Fordson. The first powered tractor was a steam engine in the early 1800's. It was replaced by gas powered engines by 1860's.


Some farm machinery brand names that are highly sought after are 1860's McCormick reapers, a Lindsey Brothers corn sheller , International Harvester horse drawn hay rake, an Avery tractor grain thresher, to name a few.

Steam powered tractor restored


Tried and true methods to locate desirable items are accomplished by posting want ads, scouring online farm classifieds and auction sites, attending actual auctions on the farm, attending and participating in collectors shows and searching in old barns. There are also televised tractor shows, such as those on RFTV. Collectors may want to pay a visit to the Amish and Mennonite communities. They usually have some older farm machines that they would trade for up for a newer one.


The antique farm machinery collectors take tremendous pride in their restored piece. There is a wide range of items, from the popular early tractors, reapers, fertilizer and seed spreaders, hay rakes, hay presses, and thrashing machines.

Restored tractor Performance Meets

Not every farm machine restorer is looking to put their finished product in the barn to be admired by the other nearby farmers or take it out once a year for a show. They are into performance meets and what they call "tractor pulls". The video pretty much describes what a pull is. I guess its a matter of individual pride and a rural version of street racing.

Restored Tractor Pulls

Summary of antique farm machinery Collecting

In summary,I have presented some ideas and information about those few who buy, trade, sell, race, and collect antique farm machinery. The collectors have their favorite time periods and types of equipment. Many stick to one type of machine while many others only deal with one brand. Drive around any rural area and you will probably see some old rusted machines sitting in the field or in a barn. Somewhere, someone is looking for that very same item.


© 2019 Stacie L

Comments

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  • galleryofgrace profile image

    galleryofgrace 

    2 years ago from Virginia

    I have lots of old magazines. The photos in these are awesome. I even did a video on one of them containing old cars and farm equipment.Enjoyed your article.

  • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

    Stacie L 

    2 years ago

    Thank you for reading and leaving your thoughtful comments. Yes, it's not very well known that people restore farm machines. ;-)

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    2 years ago from Houston, Texas

    This is a fascinating subject, particularly for collectors and restorers of these antique pieces of farm machinery. I have seen many of these machines in museums and also rusting in fields. At a recent vintage car show in the Houston area, a couple of tractors were also on display. They are every bit as interesting to view as are the old cars.

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