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'Down on the Farm' The James Graham Collection

‘Down on the Farm’ The James Graham Collection

March 25, 2019


James Graham Collection – August 9-10, Beardsley, MN

By Yvette VanDerBrink


James grew more than wheat, corn and soybeans on his farm in Traverse County, Minnesota. He also grew a bumper crop of GM convertibles, Ford, Mercury, and of course, Graham trucks after his namesake.

James Graham grew up on a farm in Browns Valley, MN and like many boys, was fascinated with cars and trucks. James was always out for a good time and, let’s just say, was a wild Minnesotan boy. He loved cruising in cars and a on occasion enjoyed a good drink. There was a share of women, but none of them stole his heart like the hunt for an old car or tractor. His first find was a 1934 Ford Coupe that he cut the top off to have a “better time” cruising with friends in the Midwest summer sun.

If something tickled his fancy, he would buy it. It really didn’t matter the flavor. If he liked it or wanted it, he bought it. His collection consisted from everything from John Deere, International, Allis Chalmers tractors to Avon collector car bottles.

James had a thing for convertibles and there are a large number of them in the collection. The list includes: a 1959 Cadillac convertible, 1959 Chevrolet Impala convertible, 1964 Chevrolet convertible and many other GM convertibles. He also loved to find anything that sported his namesake and there are several Graham trucks in the collection. Many pickups, sedans, and hard tops are in the collection as well. They vary in condition from restored vehicles to original, barn fresh cars and trucks.

James farmed many acres, so the draw towards collecting tractors came naturally. There are many fine examples of tractors included in the collection.

Now when we said that James bought anything, we meant it. The collection also contains about 1000 collector decorative plates, Jim Beam decanters, Avon bottles, die cast toys and more. James collected vehicles from Illinois to California. It didn’t matter where they were located; he just wanted them to join his crop of iron in Minnesota. James buying wasn’t reserved to just private purchases, he loved to go to auctions as well. He liked the fact that he could stand there and bid and buy whatever he wanted. If he didn’t get it, he “would make the other guy pay!” He always was more than willing to tell you and show you, that he was a “boss” and bought like one, too.

Being a farmer, he had various buildings to house his collection. James loved the fact that he could walk in the buildings and drive anything he wanted and walk the rows of his bountiful automotive harvest. In his 80’s he took a horrible fall and became disabled. This didn’t deter his love of driving. He fitted his pickup and some of the farm equipment with controls so that he could still drive. As the years went on, it became harder for him to get around, and he relied more on friends and his hired hand to keep farming. The cars started to accumulate dust in the sheds and spent fewer days in the sun on the Minnesota and South Dakota roads. James eventually was placed in a nursing home. Most people would not like the change of address, but James didn’t mind; he appreciated all the nurse’s attention. His friends would visit and give him a ride in one of his cars until he was no longer able to.

James passed away and left the task of dispersing his enormous estate. The executors were getting ready for the funeral and talking with the undertaker about all the cars, tractors, and trucks that needed to be sold. With a referral from the undertaker, they called VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC to work with them to sell the collection. Battling one of the nasty 2019 blizzards, I ventured out to take a look at the collection. I was struck with “total amazement.” Building after building filled with great stuff. The task of cataloging, photographing and making videos will start shortly, and soon the world will see this bumper crop of amazing iron.

The auction will be held at the Graham farm in Beardsley, MN and also online for everyone to have a chance to bid on this amazing collection. The schedule will be: Day 1, Friday August 9, 2019 will focus on the antique tractors, Jim Beam decanters, die cast toys, and farm equipment. Day 2, Saturday, August 10, 2019 the auction will continue with approx. 100 amazing collector cars and trucks. For more information on the James Graham Collection www.vanderbrinkauctions.com or call VanDerBrink Auctions 605-201-7005. See you at the auction!







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We went down the lane, by the body of the man in black, sodden now from the overnight hail, and broke into the woods..