Famous Auction 10 Years Ago Today

Where were you exactly 10 years today?

I know where I was. Perhaps you were there with me, in Hamilton, IL for the Wayne Crooks farm estate auction, March 6, 2009, on the sale yard for Sullivan Auctioneers. This was the famous auction featuring (3) super low hour 1982 John Deere 4440 tractors, including one with only 47 hours.

Yes, 47 actual hours.

What was the scoop? I’m sure you’ve heard me tell the tale, or read about it over the years. It was such an eventful sale I’ve referred back to it often over the years. Oil was discovered on Mr. Crooks land in the late 1970’s / early 1980’s. A very shrewd negotiator, Mr. Crooks got the oil company from Texas to buy him a line of brand new John Deere farm equipment plus a few other equipment items as part of the mineral rights contract.

Then he barely used them over the next 27 years. Word was he just kept everything in the shed. Stayed the same simple guy, wore overalls every day just like he always had.

Mr. Crooks passed away and came time for his estate auction and here were a few of the eye catching items up for sale in this amazing equipment lineup:

* 1982 John Deere 4440 tractor, 47 hours, PS

* 1982 John Deere 4440 tractor, 692 hours, PS

* 1982 John Deere 4440 tractor, 1843 hours, PS

* 1982 John Deere 7720 combine, 478 engine hours

1982 John Deere 643 6-row corn head, Like New

1982 GMC tandem axle twin screw grain truck with 4,008 miles, 18’ Knapheide box

1982 White 5100 12-row planter, new, still in box

Ok, now remember this was March 2009. Youtube, Facebook, Twitter were just barely getting going. In farm country they were still looked at kid’s stuff. Little did we know. I blogged in advance of the auction, mainly talking about the (3) super low hour 1982 John Deere 4440 tractors, including the one with just 47 hours.

What will it sell for?

Seems everyone, and I mean EVERYONE had an opinion and price guess. I traveled from our home of Rochester, MN down to Hamilton, IL the day before the auction. We filmed the sale for the TV show I was part of at the time, The Machinery Show by Successful Farming magazine. The afternoon before the auction and there were already TONS of folks there, milling around, talking…”Hey Pete, what do you think that 47 hour 4440 will go for?”

Sale day came, bright and clear.

When Sullivan Auctioneer’s auction truck rolled around the corner up in front of the (3) 1982 model John Deere 4440 tractors…it got…quiet. I mean really quiet. Church quiet. Golf crowd quiet.

Who would buy it, maybe Deere Corporate for their Archives? Perhaps Hollywood as an early 1980’s time piece. Someone that wanted to run it? A collector? Time to find out.

Bidding opened and whoosh, we were at $50K. Bids crept higher. The 47 hour 1982 model 4440 sold for $58,000. Still to this day the highest ever auction sale price on a John Deere 4440 tractor.


The bidder on the ground who got it was none other than Bill Dietrich, founder of DMI. But Bill was there bidding for his good friend and fellow farm equipment legend Jon Kinzenbaw, founder of Kinze Manufacturing. This historic 4440 now resides in Jon’s amazing tractor collection. Sometimes you can see it on display at the fantastic Kinze Innovations Center in Williamsburg, IA. If you haven’t been….GO. A must see. Here’s a pic I took couple years ago while at Kinze with auctioneer Dan Sullivan, Bill Dietrich and Jon Kinzenbaw with the famous 1982 John Deere 4440 with 47 hours.


The other (2) 1982 John Deere 4440’s sold for $51,000 (692 hours) and $43,000 (1843 hours). Here’s a sale price rundown from this famous March 6, 2009 farm estate auction in Hamilton, IL, followed by some memorable pictures from sale day, 10 years ago today. Maybe you can spot yourself in the pics:

Sale Prices on 3/6/09 Hamilton, IL Farm Estate Auction

* Data by http://www.MachineryPete.com















Late afternoon when the auction finally wrapped up, I hopped back in car and started the 5 hour drive home to Rochester, MN. That drive seemed like it took 15 min. My head was spinning. In a very good way. See, the thing is, up to that point, yes I had been compiling auction sale price data for nearly 20 years, writing a monthly Machinery Pete column in major farm magazines for 17 years and even been on TV for year and a half. But I hadn’t really spent ton of time out on the road covering auctions. This was by design and my wife Jacque and I had 2 wonderful daughters who were growing up.

I wanted them to know their dad. Only one shot at getting that right.

So I stayed home. I worked the phone constantly, for couple decades, calling auctioneers and all my sources. By night’s end my ear was sore from having the receiver (no cell phones yet) pressed against it all day. But by March 2009 our oldest daughter was weeks from graduating High School and heading off to college and our youngest daughter wasn’t far behind.

I knew driving home from the auction on that day, March 6, 2009, that things were about to change for me.

I needed to crank out more content. A monthly column wasn’t enough. When I got home I set up our Machinery Pete Youtube channel, Facebook account and registered on Twitter. I knew long term I needed to find a way to do our own Machinery Pete TV show. Went down to Target few months later and bought a Flip phone. Had our daughter Meghan, then 18, sit me down and teach me how to edit video. Youtube here I come. Felt like my own Machinery Pete TV channel. That was over 1,400 Youtube videos ago.

Haven’t looked back since. Been a blast. Hit the road I did. Out to film auctions, tell stories and see where it all leads.

Thanks for following along! Can’t to wait to see where the road ahead leads.