Artifacts & Memorabilia

From the early 1900ís into the 1920ís, Rock Island Plow Company frequently produced advertising trinkets. Few modern pieces have been produced, mostly belt buckles and watch fobs, Luckily, this means there are few counterfeits and reproductions on the market. This is not a total list, but is a compilation of some of the more common items to appear.


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Three cast iron seats are commonly associated with RIPC, these were implement seats, not tractor seats and were used in the late 1800ís and very early 1900ís but were replaced shortly after the turn of the century. The Buford seat is commonly recognized, although many collectors do not connect it to Rock Island being unfamiliar with the name.

The second and third seat are commonly recognized RIPC seats, the unnamed version apparently on pre RIPC cultivators and the 4th used in the later 1890ís on?†† The first seat on the bottom row is the iconic star seat, which is commonly found and reproductions are frequently on ebay. The second seat on the bottom row is not commonly associated with RIPC but appears in the 1900 parts catalog for use on certain models of cultivators and on our example at least, the cast number of R162 matches the catalog parts number.

The fourth seat below is a mystery, there are two versions, one of which has Morrison Bros. Ft Dodge IA also cast on it, which is extremely rare; the common version of the seat has no such casting. I can find only one passing reference to Morrison Bros connected to a Browne Sulky, while the Browne was the premier B.D. Buford sulky plow of the day. Furthermore, at least one B.D. Buford ad shows the sulky seat as having ďne SulĒ, although other ads show different seats, notice also the similarity to the Buford seat. I have to wonder if Morrison Bros for a brief time sold the Browne Sulky for Buford?

Watch fobs were popular advertising items given out by many turn of the century companies. Below are an example of some of the fobs commonly seen. The only known reproductions so far are of the Heider fobs and they are clearly marked on the reverse. The coloring is an enamel that can chip so its not uncommon to find them missing their coloring.

Another common promotional item for companies were buttons and pins. This was common in the turn of the century, with the buttons being made of celluloid and retaining much of their original finish even now. Here are a few examples, although others do exist.

Browne Sulky


Rock Island

Cultivator seat 1

~1912 brass and silver

~1912 pewter and black

~1912 reverse

Liberty Gang

Liberty Gang reverse


Eagle reverse


Heider reverse

Heider Fob of the month

~1902 Southern RIPC

~1920 OKC button

1902 Toledo button

CTX button

CTX pin

CTX pin reverse

1912 Worlds Fair

Brass and Enamel pin

Brass and Enamel

Gold colored stick pin

Liberty Plow Tape Measure

A variety of promotional items were given away by the various branches and agents of the company. Some were very practical and nice like the thermometer and brass letter opener. Others like the Gelman can opener and the slotted spoon were more novelties.

Liberty Plow Tape Measure reverse

Rock Island Vehicles

Rock Island Vehicles reverse


Ruler #1

Ruler #2

Ruler #3

Heider Letter Opener

Rulers were a common give away item and are frequently seen at auction, a number of variants exist. Celluloid tape measures with their high quality logos are rarer but can still be found.

Boot Brush


Can Opener


Northern Rock Island spoon and bottle opener

Northern Rock Island spoon and bottle opener

Agent sharpening stone


This sharpening stone was a common type, engraved with business names. This one was from Osborne IL, only a few miles outside Rock Island.

A rare type of can opener made by the Gellman Co. of Rock Island, a common wrench maker with the RIPC name and logo on the handle

At least two versions, a small and a large, were made of these wood thermometers.

Rock Island Heider Shoe brush ~1920

Northern Rock Island Plow Co. Pencil

Eastern RIPC brass letter opener

Indianapolis Indiana

Left: Rare Northern Rock Island metal spoon with a bottle opener at the end of the handle.

Northern Rock Island Plow Co. Heider Ashtray

Ashtrays were another give away item, the Hedgehogs or porcupines being an interesting example. The first one is simply cast Rock Island Plow Co. the second one is the identical ashtray, however it is cast J.I. Case Co Rock Island First Iron May 1937 to commemorate their reopening the plant.

RIPC Hedgehog Ashtray

Case Rock Island Works First Iron 1937

Matched hedgehog ashtrays

Although a small handful of custom one of a kind toys exist, the only production scale models of any Rock Islands or Heiders were made by Spec Cast in 1986. These consisted of a Heider C and Heider D in 1/16 scale which could also be purchased with a matching serial number belt buckle (see below) or separately as the commemorative tractor for the first annual Quad Cities Farm Toy show (Rock Island is part of the Quad Cities). In addition, a 1/64th scale version was also produced, although many of the Cís do not have the commemorative canopy that was made for the show. These are now often seen sold as Dís.

1/16th Heider C with Belt Buckle

1/16th Heider C

1/16th Heider D

1/64th scale C

Two Heider commemorative belt buckles are commonly seen, both being the numbered Spec Cast buckles originally produced for the 1986 Quad Cities Toy Show.

Spec Cast Heider C Belt Buckle

Spec Cast Heider D Belt Buckle

Spec Cast Heider D Belt Buckle Back

Heider C Belt Buckle

Expo RI FA Belt Buckle


Fan reverse

RI/Great Western

†Oil Can

RI/Great Western

†Oil Can

Rock Island

Cultivator seat 2

1911 Rock Island Plow Cookbook (pdf)

1911 Rock Island Plow Cookbook (pdf)

Rock Island

Rock Island

Cultivator seat 3

1/64th scale D

Eastern RIPC Tin Cup

Eastern RIPC Tin Cup

Printers Blocks

Printers Blocks

1918 Calendar

Right: Printers blocks were mass produced for advertising and can still be frequently found.

Above: Rock Island cookbook, the recipes are fairly high class and made use of the increasing availability of exotic foods.