Collecting Antique Farm Toys

People have been making farm toys ever since agriculture has been practiced. Archaeological evidence from around the world, from the Mayans to the Mesopotamian and Indus Valley civilizations bear testimony to the fact that farm toys were regularly used in ancient cultures. Most farm toys of these eras were handmade. The most famous ancient farm toy was a small cart and plow made for the children of King Edward I in the thirteenth century. Commercial farm toys made their appearance as late as the 1800s in the United States. Even so, harsh farm life and poverty of that period meant that there was no real market for such products. Commercial farm toys really took off in the 1920s. However, few records of this period have escaped the damage wrought by time so that it is difficult to ascertain the first toy manufacturer. The earliest known commercial toy was a horse-drawn fire pumper wagon with a tin boiler and pump apparatus.

As the 20th Century progressed, farm toys became more and more popular. Increase in standards of living made toys in general very popular and farm toys were a prized gift for children. Changes in farm equipment were closely mirrored in the toys produced by the manufacturers. Thus, these toys are a blatant testimony of the times they have been made in. Some of these toys bear the printed names of the makers of real farm equipment such as International Harvester and John Deere. Cast-iron was the preferred material in which toys of the olden days were made. No toy manufacturer uses cast-iron nowadays so that these antique toys have become finite. Most toy manufacturers also no longer produce farm related toys as the fashion is more towards science-fiction and the more modern trends. For all these reasons, old farm toys have become a collector’s item. Prized and looked for, antique farm toys can fetch hefty prices. At times, the collectible rare farm toy may be worth more that the actual machine!

A few examples of antique farm equipment include:

  • Case farm tractors

  • P&H power shovel and hay loader

  • Corn planters

  • Hay rakes

  • Mowers

  • Combines

  • Potato diggers

  • Horse carts

  • Tipping trailers

Some manufacturers are Vindex, Arcade and Hubley, Tootsie Toys and Kenton. However, since farm toys are replicas of farm equipment, the equipment manufacturers were often involved in the manufacturing of these replicas. Thus, Ford, Case and Caterpillar all have been involved in farm toy production.

Some farm toys are more attractive for a collector. For example, farm toys based on steam engines or two-cylinder models often fetch a higher price. Unique designs, such as those that can be found in early agricultural countries (Germany, France, Britain…etc) are also quite in demand.