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Iowan's Farm Toy Collection May Be the World's Largest
Walk into the basement of Larry Maasdam's rural home near Clarion, Iowa, and you find yourself in a virtual toy museum. Over 6,500 toys fill the glass shelf lined walls. In all, there's over 150 linear ft. of showcase and the amazing collection, started only 10 years ago, is still growing.
It already may be the world's largest private collection of farm toys. It's divided fairly evenly between tractors and implements, and construction toys. But there are also trucks, Model T banks, cars, and even an antique steam shovel. Most of the toys were mass produced and a few were hand made.
"I don't concentrate on variations within tractor models. I'm more interested in having one of everything that was pro-
duced," says Maasdam who owns only a few duplicates for trading purposes. He owns most of the toy tractors ever made by U.S. manufacturers, and has collected foreign-made models from Germany, Austria, Italy, England, Holland, Spain, Czechoslovakia and Russia.
Two of the first tractors Maasdam bought when he started collecting farm toys 10 years ago are a cast iron McCormick-Deering built in the early 1930's, and an Oliver 77 in "like new" condition built in the early 1950's. He paid $35 for the 1020 and estimates it's now worth $100. He paid $7.50 for the Oliver 77, now worth about $150.
For security reasons, Maasdam won't say which tractor in his collection is the most valuable or unusual. But there are a few of which he's especially proud.
He slides open one of the glass panels and pulls out a Cockshutt tractor made in Canada. "This is one of the most expensive toy tractors anywhere. I won't even try to guess what it would bring."
He pulls out a Case 800 built in 1957. "New in the box, this tractor would bring $800. And I've got the box."
He picks up another cast iron Case tractor, this one hitched to a cast iron manure spreader. Both were built in the 1930's by the Vindex Toy Company which long ago went out of business, making these toys especially valuable.
Maasdam also owns a Vindex-made cast iron plow, new with original paint and never played with. "It would bring $700 to $1,000. And this rare Oliver Super 55, without the plow, would bring $300."
He removes other toys: A Massey 44 disk and plow, a self-propelled combine, a manure loader. "They're all valuable be-cause they 're die cast, quality made, and the manufacturer went under. Toys like this you could have bought new in the 1940's for $1.50. Today, new in the box, they'd bring at least $600."
One of his favorite toy tractors is a red, new-in-the box 1950's era David Brown farm crawler which Maasdam got in a trade with an English friend. "This tractor is very rare. I don't know of any others like it in the U.S."
Maasdam's oldest toy tractor is a Water-loo Boy 1912. His largest toy is a working Case steam engine built to a 1/6 scale. It's equipped with an oiler and is steam powered.
How has he managed to build such a fantastic world-class collection in only 10 years while, at the same time, running a business and supervising 12 employees?
"Friends, business associates and foreign contacts play an important role in keeping my collection growing," Maasdam told FARM SHOW. "They serve as a net-work and keep a watchful eye on toys that may interest me. Also, as I travel with my construction crew, I check the antique shops and talk to folks who may have a lead on a rare toy tractor or implement."
As extensive as his collection is, Maasdam says he has no intention of sitting back and letting it become an inactive hobby. He buys, sells and swaps at all major farm toy shows throughout the Midwest. "I never know where I'll find that next new farm toy that will make my collection even more complete," he told FARM SHOW.
For more information, contact FARM SHOW Followup, Larry Maasdam, Rt. 2, Clarion, Iowa 50525 (ph 515 532-2901).

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1988 - Volume #12, Issue #1