Collecting and restoring farm toys keeps Roger Bagley young at heart
By Jennie Zeitler
Roger Bagley of Paynesville remembers playing with a toy John Deere tractor with a driver when he was a boy, a piece he has since discovered was made in 1945.
“It was the only John Deere toy I had,” he said.
Bagley now has a basement room filled to the gills with John Deere and other collectibles, in addition to his childhood tractor.
He is looking forward to being a vendor for the third year at the 25th Annual Farm Toy Show in Sauk Centre, Saturday, Feb. 9, from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room at Sauk Centre Public School.
Bagley started to collect farm toys in the late 1970s, finding them at auctions, antique stores, flea markets and by word of mouth.
“I like to take old busted toys and bring them back to life,” he said.
He sandblasts and paints them, fully restoring them.
A back room in the basement is lined with bins of varying sizes filled with wheels, hitches, steering wheels, rops and other vital toy parts.
“It’s the junk room where I work on things,” said Bagley. “I call it my treasure trove.”
Bagley, who manages the Belgrade Grain Elevator, tries not to miss farm shows in Paynesville, Sauk Centre, Sioux Falls, S.D. and Le Sueur. He likes to attend the John Deere two-cylinder expo in Little Falls each year as well as the Orange Spectacular in Hutchinson.
“I’ve been going to the Sauk Centre show for about 12 years, and this is my third year as a vendor,” he said.
One of Bagley’s most surprising finds happened in January, when he came across some John Deere plans for corn cribs in an antique store.
“They were printed in 1924,” he said, “and included a design for a special elevator between the sides of a corn crib.”
Another of his unique finds is a #5 corn sheller that is all wood. “I have a little bit of everything,” he said. “I collect as I go, and am always learning.”
He also has two corn planter seed box lids from the 1920s, made by Deere and Mansur, the original John Deere company name.
To house his collectibles, Bagley took barn siding from an old machine shed on the farm where he grew up near Regal and applied it to the walls and ceiling of a basement room in his home.
“One of the walls is a door like a sliding barn door,” he said.
Bagley’s wife, Kathy, has sewed curtains, a tablecloth and wall quilts that complement the decor in Bagley’s basement room.
To make more room, Bagley has plans to build a shed outside. He will be making a curved wall with shelves to hold his dozen or so pedal tractors.
Bagley has a John Deere Nokia cell phone that is about 10 years old, and a gold commemorative 4020 tractor made to mark the closing of the Minneapolis branch of John Deere. He also collects Oliver Toys, made by a company that was bought by the White Motor Company.
The Bagleys travel together to shows, where they meet a lot of different people. “They all have stories to share,” Kathy said. “It’s fun; we always have a good time.”
Kathy sews children’s John Deere aprons and pillowcases, which are also sold at the shows.
After the toy shows, the Bagleys stop at quilt shops for Kathy, which works out well when the fabric can be used to pack around all the toys collected that day.
Saturday’s show is sponsored by the Sauk Centre Chamber of Commerce. Proceeds will be used by the Sauk Centre Dollars for Scholars, which gives an agriculture-based scholarship, and for other events in Sauk Centre.
There are currently 30 vendors setting up, who have reserved 79 tables, said Andrea Kerfeld, executive director of the Chamber.
Vendors may set up their tables and displays Friday night from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.
For more information, contact Kerfeld at (320) 352-5201.