His first visit to the Netherlands came more than 30 years ago when we visited one of the earliest international Landbauw Miniaturen shows which was held then in Wageningen. It was here Claire first got to know Martin Smits who had helped organize this show and they became friends. It may have been at this time that Claire first learned the story of these unique models.
A few short months ago we had a discussion about this company and these models with one of our writers, Larry LeMasters. We suggested the possibility of finding out more about Fortschritt and their “toys.” What we didn’t expect was that he would dig into this suggestion and submit a story in very short time. Then when it was scheduled to be in this issue, we expected we would need to illustrate it with some models from our display. What a surprise we had when our designer, Angela Bauer sent us the laid-out story and found that Larry had written about actual toys that were made by two German toy companies and not these factory produced promotional models in our collection. This was great new information.
We had reserved space for this side-bar and proceeded to do some internal research of what we had written about in the past about the models. At first, we couldn’t locate this cover story we had recently seen in our archives. An early morning phone call to Martin Smits produced the copy of that story and the following extra bit of information:
“How the models got to Holland: A Dutch collector, Johan Broekema had good contacts in Germany and took the challenge to go visit the former EGR quite soon after the famous Berlin wall came down. He got in touch with people from the tractor factory in Schönebeck and that is how he got a hold of many of the models that the factory had made for display purposes and advertising. Johan Broekema had a good collection of Fortschritt models for himself, but sold the duplicates he had, which were quite a few.”
We believe it was some of these duplicates that found their way into Claire Scheibe’s collection displayed in the Toy Farmer Museum. You can read the entire article on our website.
Martin’s article included a couple of interesting facts. These models, which were made for promotional purposes of the Fortschritt company, were often used in displays to illustrate how they would work in the field. “Every model has a plexiglass base with two threads. That is how the models were bolted on prepared lay outs when they went out for display and many of the models also have a name printed underneath, presumably the name of the maker of the model.” Not every model has this plexiglass base, but the plow shown here does and also a name of the possible maker.
On a trip out to the museum to look at the book of Claire’s inventory which includes these models, we noticed the July 1995 Toy Farmer cover seen on this page. Both covers were photographed by Russ Hanson Photography of Fargo, who did many of our TF cover shots in the past. All of the models on the covers are in the TF collection. There are two articles about what is on this 1995 cover which you can also read on our website.
We found that issue in our archives and read in the “Claire Sez” editorial that we had just returned from a visit to the Netherlands where “our son Mike and his wife Abby were our guests on a belated wedding trip which included some memorable time in the lovely Dutch tulip fields.” Yesterday, Mike and Abby were here, and Abby cleaned up our perennial bed of flowers in front of the TF offices where a small clump of tulips purchased on that trip and planted the following spring was blooming, 25 years later. Time flies…