Tom Hoffman just shipped 1,000 tractors and related farm equipment to an auction house in South Dakota that will go on the auction block Feb. 2. I should mention that these are scale models, not the full-size version.
The Genoa collector has enjoyed farm toys and scale models of farm implements since he was a youngster. Tom said, “I have always had a fascination with farm toys and my grandfather gave me an Archaic brand thresher when we lived on an Aves farm near Kirkland.”
Later, he built his own model of a McCormick-Deering combine, and 60 years later, the hobby has mushroomed to fill his basement.
Last fall, he realized he had so many it might be a good idea to put some up for auction, so he contacted the national toy auction firm Girard in Wakonda, South Dakota. Girard had him ship the toys for next month’s auction. The firm will auction 400 at its location and put another 600 online for bidding from collectors across the country and around the world.
Looking around his finished basement, the shelves lining the walls mostly are filled with farm toy models, military miniatures, cars and trucks similar to the ones he once owned. He also has Western-themed layouts, a barn with haying underway that he built himself, and some DeKalb Ag memorabilia.
When going down the steps, I found his staircase wall was covered with caps he also has saved. He estimates he still has a 1,000 or more farm toys.
Asked what would happen with the extensive collection when he is gone, he said he wasn’t sure. It could go to the Dyersville, Iowa, farm toy museum, that has the largest collection in the country. I suggested the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association museum after it moves into the DeKalb County History Center museum building now under construction. But the museum board would have to agree to that.
He is not thinking of giving up the hobby in the foreseeable future, even wanting to expand his more recent collection of 1/64th-scale model tractors he has in one small wall cabinet now. His wife, Louise, has been supportive of his hobby and has given him a few items for his collection, including a miniature replica of a feed store, built by another Genoa resident, Orrin Merritt.
This weekend, the Hoffmans are hosting a meeting of the Stateline Toy Collectors Club, which is made up of about 30 members. They swap, buy and sell, and have a good time looking over each other’s latest acquisitions. I can imagine the big topic at this month’s gathering will be the February auction of a part of Tom’s collection.