I wasn't going to post on this subject, but I want to add my two cents if it means anything.
The word Rare used to have a meaning back when I first got into this hobby in April 1989. Even then, I don't know that you could consider it a hobby, due to me only wanting one tractor to go with my Farm Toy collection, and also due to the garden tractors not really being sought after the way they are now. I just wanted a John Deere round fender 110. I didn't know much about them, and at the time, didn't really care. After getting my first 110 with the Owners Manual, and seeing all of the different types of Models, Years, and Attachments, only then did I decide that I wanted so much more. I'd go to the area dealerships and ask about the different options and attachments, and was quickly told, Good Luck in finding them, as they are extremely "Rare". This I took as a challenge. I studied the manuals I had, inside and out, just so I'd know what I'm looking for, and to be able to identify it if I did find it. I searched public auctions, yard sales, and flea markets, anywhere I thought my chances of finding these "Rare" items would be. Some I got dirt cheap, others I paid dear for. Either way, the collection is now complete.
The items that were supposedly "Rare", were more in the line of "Hard to find". I was always told that they are extremely rare, but then later found out that I was probably one of the last people to have one. Rare to me means, searching all of your life looking for that "one of kind" piece that no one has, or just can't be found. People told me that the 1963 110 is the rarest tractor to be found, due to Deere only producing 1000 units. Yes, it took me some time, but eventually I not only found one, but I found two. And now that the collection is complete, it seems that the 1963 110's are found everywhere. The front mount 20 Air Compressor was another "Rare" item that I was told that I'd never find. Well, I have one, and have seen others. Neither of these items do I consider "Rare".
I don't know who is responsible for applying the word "Rare" into the garden tractor vocabulary, but it deffinately don't belong here. I have to agree with Doc on this one. Those items that have only been produced for once or twice, "could" be considered "Rare", but as more and more of them are found, then the term "Rare" needs to be taken away. Usually, the only time I use the word Rare is when trying to find those parts needed to complete a restoration. I search and I search, thinking that I'll never find the missing piece, when all of a sudden, I find it. Usually spend too much money buying it, but still, I got it.
But even now in today's garden tractor collecting, it seems like reproduction methods are taking away those rare finds or opportunities that used to excite us so much. You search for years and spend a lot of money on a very hard to find part, only to find that the same part is now being reproduced a month later, much cheaper than the time and money you spent on the original part. Don't get me wrong, I'm Thankful that the garden tractors are finally getting their moment in the sun, but to me, the feeling of finding those "Rare" and hard to find parts, tractors, and attachments, were themselves a "Rare" feeling in itself. What once was considered Rare, is probably more plentiful now then it has ever been, but for some reason, the pricing doesn't change. It used to be a great feeling knowing that you acquired something that nobody else had, or were told that you would never own. But now, it seems that everybody has what you have, and you are looking for the same things they are. Just kind of sucks the excitement right out of you.
I still enjoy the collection, and I still get excited over a once in a lifetime opportunity, but it almost seems like those times are getting extremely "Rare".