Help solve this John Deere horseshoe mystery

A longtime Deere and Company employee is out to solve the mystery of the horseshoes.

Pat Simon received the items from a friend about a year ago. Now, the Waterloo man wants some information about them.

Maybe you can help him out.

Pat will retire soon as a second generation Deere machinist. That’s why he came to Davenport for the Gathering of the Green.

“I’m trying to figure out where they came from,” he said.

Pat wants to solve the mystery of his John Deere horseshoes. They show the logo used from 1968-2000. He thinks they were made near Moline, and he hopes this will help his search for clues.

“The searching that I’ve done up to this point, it’s been pretty hard to get answers,” he said.

“Where did you find this?” asked show director Tony Knobbe.

He’s fascinated with the find.

“I wonder if this is as they were originally painted?” Knobbe asked.

“That I do not know,” Pat responded.

With more than 2,000 participants, there’s plenty of ground to cover at Davenport’s RiverCenter.

“Just not knowing kind of drives me nuts,” said Pat.

There’s no way to really know how much they’re worth without an auction. And Pat isn’t planning to sell them.

Next stop, dealer David Haeck.

“A horseshoe?” Haeck asked.

“Yeah, I’m a horseshoe pitcher,” Pat said.

After more than 40 years of collecting, it’s a first for the Michigan vendor.

“I was curious because I’ve never seen one before,” Haeck said.

Wherever Pat walks, the horseshoes become a topic of conversation.

“That’s really a great find for here at this John Deere show,” said collector Larry Soule.

But as Pat explores the displays, answers are hard to come by. That is, until he finds Davenport dealer Kevin Collins.

“This is the first yellow one I’ve ever seen,” Collins said.

Kevin once sold two green horseshoes like these. He thinks they came from the East Moline foundry. Another item on his table matches the logo and timeframe.

“See, that’s the same,” Pat said. “Exactly the same logo.”

This is the most solid lead yet. Seems back then, it was common for employees to make so-called rogue items.

Pat Simon left the show with some answers and more questions. He hopes WQAD viewers with Deere connections can help him out.

“There’s always the hope that somebody will see this and maybe have some personal knowledge of it,” he concluded.

To help Pat, just write a comment on this story, or e-mail us at news@wqad.com

We’ll keep him posted with the results.

10 comments

  • Donna northup

    I think they were made in Waupaca Wisconsin. …we used to take scrap steel there and I’ve seen tractor weights and horseshoes is the scrap piles that had to be done over…

    • Pat Simon

      Hi, Donna, thanks for your response! Did you mean Waukesha, Wisconsin? There was an International Harvestor plant there and I have read of there having been found some horseshoes that may have been produced there. What I have read seemed to indicate that any horseshoes made there were for promotional purposes rather than retail sale. If you have any other information or know of any horseshoes from Waupaca or Waukesha I would be interested in seeing any of those horseshoes it there are any still around. Thanks again for your reponse.

    • Pat Simon

      Hi, Fred, and thanks for your response. I found it interesting that you sent me a link to one of Bob Dunn’s Horseshoe trader articles, since it was another one of Bob’s horseshoe trader articles that started this whole thing. That one was titled “They made more than tractors…” That article spoke about John Deere and International Harvester both having been in the pitching horseshoe production business back in the early 1920’s. It was that article that first got me searching for information about John Deere pitching shoes. Thanks for your information!
      Are you a horseshoe fellow pitcher like me? I ask because these articles are found on the NHPA website at horseshoepitching.com.

    • Pat Simon

      Hi Don, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to hear from you. You sound like just the person I was hoping to reach with the TV spot that WQAD-TV did. I had run into nothing but dead ends in trying to find out where these horseshoes were made. I had all but run out of ideas on how to reach someone who might have personal knowledge of their origin, when on a lark I fired off an email to WQAD-TV with my story. I was elated when I got a positive response from them and when they told me of the Gathering of the Green in Davenport, that same week, it seemed almost too good to be true. Then, getting responses the very same evening that the telecast was aired was unbelievable. You, having worked at the malleable foundry, sound like just the person who may be able to fill in some or all of the blanks I still have. I am very interested in anything and everything you can tell me about the production of these horseshoes. I am interested in hearing about what your job was at the foundry. Tell me about this last iron pour. Did you have a personal hand in the making these shoes? How did you come to own one? Is this something that a lot of employees got? Or is it more like what was speculated at the show that this was a rogue operation, under the corporate radar? I would also be interested in seeing photos of your shoes too if that is possible and you wouldn’t mind. Are yours painted? Green, yellow, mine are yellow, the vendor in Davenport had seen a green set. Feel free to email me at ps26521@yahoo.com. Thanks again for your response. I look forward to hearing from you.

  • curt bates

    I hav a set of 4 unpainted I received around ’78- ’79 when I was in the explorer program at J D foundry

    • Pat Simon

      Hi Curt, thanks for your response. It’s been very interesting to find out that there are more of these horseshoes out there. I would be interested in seeing photos of the ones you have. How did you come to receive them? Did you have a hand in their production? I am interested in any further information you may have about them. Please feel free to email me and again if possible, I would like to see some photos of what you have. Thanks agan for your response.

    • Pat Simon

      Hi Sandy, and thank you for your response. I am thrilled to hear of there being other horseshoes, like mine, out there. Knowing that has given me renewed hope that I will eventually find out what I have been searching for, these past two years, since I first came to own two sets. I would really like to hear anything you wish to share about your set and how you came to own them. Did you work at the JD foundry where these were made? Also, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble I would like to see photos of the set you have. Is your set painted? If so, Green or yellow. One of the vendors said he had seen a green set, and he said my shoes were the first yellow ones he had ever seen. Thanks again for your response.

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