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Manuals To Buy And Sell
Mike Becker has no problem parting with his collection of manuals, brochures and ag equipment memorabilia. He says it helps that he is a “paper farmer”, not a collector.
“I collect other things like cream separators and Wisconsin-made tools, but the manuals, sales brochures and related items are what I sell to other collectors,” explains Becker.
Becker got his start in the 1990’s when he picked up a box of manuals. After 25 years of buying and selling, he has customers in Europe, Canada and around the U.S. One customer from Denmark is traveling to the U.S. this summer and plans to stop by.
Becker has no shortage of customers. The increasingly hard part is finding material to sell.
Small farm equipment dealerships were once a good source. He would go to auctions when they sold out. However, there are fewer and fewer left to sell out. The same holds true for older farmers who once picked up the literature or got a manual when they bought some piece of equipment.
“There is simply less to be found,” he says. “There are fewer and fewer old places that haven’t been cleaned out. All too often when they are cleared out, a dumpster is brought in and everything goes. People don’t put a value on old paper.”
Becker recalls a John Deere pocket ledger that he bought and later sold. Printed in the 1880’s, it had been used by the farmer who owned it.
“I find some things in mint condition; perhaps they were stuck in a drawer and forgotten,” he says. “However, most farmers didn’t have much money, and they used everything they had. Most of the brochures and manuals I come across have been well-read and used.”
Although some of his items, especially brochures, go to collectors, Becker estimates about 75 percent goes to people who own the actual equipment. Many of them want the manual to help them maintain or perhaps restore the equipment. That can include toy replicas of the equipment.
“I have some customers who are either building scale model replicas or customizing existing toy models of the equipment,” says Becker. “They want the manuals for the specifications and the look they want to get. They may take a toy replica of a gas-powered tractor and have it customized as an LP version.”
One source of customers and supplies of materials is antique equipment shows. He recently attended the Red Power Roundup.
“I talked to folks from the Netherlands, Austria, England, New Zealand and more,” says Becker. “They are usually looking for brochures and memorabilia. I had a couple of customers for manuals from Canada stop by, as well as a few folks with manuals and such to sell.”
Becker encourages FARM SHOW readers with unwanted farm equipment literature to contact him. He is always in the market.
“I have to keep buying stuff so I can keep selling it,” he says. “I’m always looking for nice clean originals, whether for trucks, tractors or whatever.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mike Becker, 19438 County Hwy. X, Chippewa Falls, Wis. 54729 (ph 715 726-1942).

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2019 - Volume #43, Issue #3