By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN Relatively new to the toy tractor collecting hobby, George Schaar of Howard Lake has an impressive display of more than 160 toy tractors in one room of his house.
The collection is non-discriminatory, which means he has just about every kind of tractor manufactured from John Deere and International to Ford and Allis Chalmers, and more.
Eight shelves, from floor to ceiling, backed with mirrors, line one whole wall at Schaar’s house. On those shelves are carefully placed toy tractors of all kinds that are grouped according to manufacture, and in descending order, according to size.
“I started collecting about five or six years ago when my brother passed away,” Schaar explained. “He had a big collection, so I bought about 30 from my brother’s collection.”
After that, Schaar, a retired police officer and past chief of police in Howard Lake, began picking up toy tractors “here and there.”
“In fact, I just bought another one yesterday at Fleet Farm,” Schaar said.
Because Schaar has so many, 166 to be exact, he keeps a handheld notebook in his car that lists all the makes and models of his toy tractors so that when he looks to buy more, he can double check that he doesn’t already have it.
“I used to buy them, then come home and discover, ‘Hey, I already have one of those gosh darn it!” Schaar laughed. “I said, ‘I have to stop doing that!’” as he would return the duplicate tractor to the store.
In addition to the small notebook, Schaar keeps a ledger at home that lists every tractor he owns, along with its serial number, how much he paid for it, its height and width, if it’s two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, if it has rubber or steel wheels, and more.
Schaar takes such meticulous care of his collection that toy tractors have never had it so good. He spent 35 hours cleaning them a couple of weeks ago.
“To keep them dust-free, I use a small paint brush to dust all the little cracks,” Schaar said.
Most the toy tractors are 1/16 scale, but he does have some bigger and some smaller.
The oldest tractor is a Fordson that was manufactured some time between 1918-1926. The Fordson brand eventually changed to Ford.
Schaar pays anywhere from $10 to $160 per toy tractor. He admits, “It’s an expensive thing to do,” but says he enjoys collecting.
A rare picture in a big collection
In addition to his toy tractor collection, Schaar and his wife Pat have an impressive photo collection of their life’s experiences, as well as the many trips they’ve taken over the years.
The albums, all neatly staked and labeled with dates, take up two large cupboards in their basement.
One of the most interesting photos Schaar opened an album to was a picture of him and Hubert H. Humphrey during the period when Humphrey was vice president of the United States.
Schaar met him while he was a police officer for the City of Delano, and even offered assistance to Humphrey when he spotted his car stalled along Highway 12.
“About the time I started talking to the vice president through his car window all of a sudden swarms of Secret Service cars appeared and told me to leave,” Schaar explained.
“Humphrey told them that I was okay, and that he knew me as a police officer. It was pretty neat,” he added.