Collecting farm toys

My cousin Dave has been collecting farm toys with his dad since he was a kid. They had a huge display in the basement with miniature tractors, combines, wagons and other miniature pieces of machinery. I visited my aunt and uncle last Christmas, and it was all still there. Knowing how old my cousin is, I’m sure some of those cast iron pieces have some monetary value as well as the sentimental kind.

Amanda Schwarz is the manager of the National Farm Toy Museum in Dyersville, Iowa. She says the prices of farm toys are determined by several factors, such as age, condition, what it’s made out of, how rare it is, and whether or not it’s still in the box. She says sometimes the box is actually worth more than the toy!

So where’s the best place to find them? Schwartz is a big advocate of farm toy shows.

"A lot of times the local FFA or 4-H groups will host a farm toy show, and they’re just great ways to get introduced into the hobby," she says. "I encourage people to talk to the dealers and the collectors. People love sharing stories and information about the toys."

Other places to find farm toys include auctions and online. Collect the brands you love and know, and do your research.

"Talk to either other collectors and/or dealers. For the most part, the farm toy hobby really does police itself as far as fraud or any negative things like that," says Schwarz. "So, I would encourage people to buy in person, buy face-to-face if you can. If not, if you do buy online, make sure it’s from a reputable dealer."

Mini machinery comes in a variety of scales, and the detail is just like you’re looking at the real thing.

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