vintage inspiration

Vintage Inspiration: Tru-Scale Toy Tractor

by Maxwell Tielman

Last fall, my boyfriend, Daniel, and I were invited to a wedding in Connecticut. I had never attended a friend’s wedding before, let alone one that was in a different state, so the opportunity seemed equal parts glamorous and exotic — even if it was only a few miles away. Determined to take advantage of the chance to be out of the city (and with a rental car), we decided to start the day early and check out Danbury’s Elephant Trunk flea market. Used to the incredibly inflated prices of New York City fleas, Elephant Trunk proved quite the treat. Not only were prices more in line with what we would expect from an actual flea market, the place was positively brimming with treasures. As we walked around that warm September morning, I ogled various tables laden with vintage comic books, kitchenware, rugs and collectibles.

My boyfriend and I move at slightly different paces when thrifting. Because of this, we parted ways quickly so that he could take his time sorting through ancient kilim rugs and I could race around from stand to stand like a jackrabbit on crack. Every so often, I would stumble upon something amazing, snap a picture of it and send it over to Daniel, who was usually several paces behind. After rifling through pretty much everything the flea market had to offer, I came across a rather dilapidated looking table with boxes of old toys placed on it. As I glanced over dismembered G.I. Joes and scrapped Hotwheels cars, my heart skipped a beat. I had seen it. That one thing that you find while thrifting that you absolutely-need-to-have-or-you-will-die. It wasn’t a trendy piece of midcentury furniture or a beautiful piece of antique glassware. No, it was a dinged up miniature tractor from the 1950s, absolutely glorious in a shocking bright red, and I had to have it.

I love the color red. There’s something striking yet totally classic about it. It adds warmth to interiors and vibrancy to the objects it adorns. The color often creates instant nostalgia for me and conjures images of old bicycles, warm sweaters, firetrucks and autumn apples. Smack the color onto vintage farm toys and you have a combination that will make me weak in the knees. After convincing Daniel to let me bring the rusty old contraption into our clean apartment, I handed over a whopping five dollars and brought the treasure home. For some time, it sat happily on my nightstand, a pleasant reminder of our day in Connecticut. Now, however, it has taken to living in our soon-to-be remodeled kitchen, where I hope it will continue to brighten my days with its jolly little attitude. In the meantime, here are a few decorating ideas and modern takes on the “farm” look, inspired by my little red tractor. Enjoy! — Max

Image above: 1. Porcelain Milk Bottle, 12.95 | 2. Lambswool Cardigan, $148 | 3. Bag Balm Protective Ointment, $8.79 | 4. Benjamin Moore Stone House Paint | 5. Coal Bag, $78 | 6. First Aid Kit, $45 | 7. Vintage-Style Radio, £25.30 | 8. IKEA PS Red Cabinet, $99

Image above: 1. Burlap Initial Pillow, $120 | 2. Rose City Pendant Light, $207 | 3. Vintage Clip-On Cage Light, $30 | 4. Linen Day Blanket, $225 | 5. Red Industrial Trash Basket, $293 | 6. Tripod Stool, $550 | 7. White Egg Holder, $15.95

Image above: 1. Rain Boots, $135 | 2. Reclaimed Wood Coffee Table, $875 | 3. Soho Plaid Throw, $129.95 | 4. Cast Iron Double Hook, $8 | 5. Marais A Chair, $212.50 | 6. Neutra House Numbers, $38.40 | 7. IKEA Tekla Tea Towel, 79¢

Image above: 1. Red Midcentury Lounge Chair, $85 | 2. Ion Lamp, $85 | 3. Cotton Cross Pillow, $98 | 4. Pashley Britannia Bike, $1,295 | 5. Benjamin Moore Ruby Red Paint | 6. White Hexagon Tile, $5.95/sq ft | 7. IKEA Sockerärt Vase, $19.99 | 8. “Are You A Robot” Print, $30

Suggested For You


  • I’ll take one of everything in your red round-up! Perfect for fall. And as someone who lives in the country in Connecticut we are lucky enough to have space for a full-size version of your red tractor. (We use it to plow the driveway in the winter.)

  • Loved your intro! Great inspiration to my planned trip to the bi-annual ham and antique market outside Paris next week. Do not ask me why ham and antiques were ever combined, but it makes for a great event.

  • My family SWEARS by Bag Balm…best stuff around for scrapes, cuts, cracked heels. Although he didn’t ‘t believe me at first, my husband swears by it now, too.

  • Everything is fabulous…amazingly fabulous. I started out coveting your $5 tractor, and now I need that more-than-$5 bike!

  • I gotta get that coffee table! The steel will keep my bunnies’ teeth from nibbling. :)

    My father worked at John Deere and has incredible miniature green tractors that he collected over the years. They are now the cherished toys of his grandsons, and they will last forever.

  • I have a tru scale tractor from the 50’s that belonged to my older brother. He left it behind and I’ll never give it back. I love it so much and have used it in promo photos for my freelance design business named Douganfarms!

  • I have a Tru Scale tractor even older than this! From the early 50’s. It belonged to my older brother, who left it behind at our parents house. I love it so much and have even used it in promos for my freelance design business!

  • I love the IKEA tea towels! Buy them by the dozen every time I’m there and use them for kitchen and bathroom hand towels. A new one in the bathroom always makes it look rich, like those seaside resorts in Italy with the thin linen towels. When they get too stained, they become house rags. Awesome value!

  • Max- I love that tractor! I have a John Deere green one whose color serves as a constant inspiration… can’t remember which *DS post I saw it in, talking about the difference between clutter and a collector is how they use scrutiny in displaying wonderful things. It takes a pretty clear space to make the tractor stand out from other things- inspiring and satisfying!

  • I had a toy tractor exactly like that when I was a boy growing up on a farm in Iowa. I believe the inspiration for the toy was either the Model 460 or the Model 560 Farmall, both of which were manufactured between 1958 through…..1 think 1962. The toy I had was actually purchased new in the mid to late 1960’s, a few years after the actual real life tractor was no longer in production. I even remember seeing this toy tractor in stores for sale brand new into the 1970’s. Thanks for the pleasant memory!