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Agriculture and Invention in 1863: Handy Machines from the Archives of Scientific American [Slide Show]

These devices were designed to reduce the labor or increase the profit of farming

1 of 11

HORSE STALL:

These stables were designed (and patented) for good ventilation, sanitation, care, feeding and safety of the horse, described as a “valuable quadruped” in the article.....[ More ]

COTTON PROCESSING:

This cotton “willower” helped the cotton farmer strip the unwanted husks and coarse material from the fine silky fibers that were in high demand. J. E. Van Winkle of Paterson, N.J. owned the patent for this device and he was a highly successful inventor.....[ More ]

POTATO DIGGER.

Harvesting pototoes by hand was a hard job: “continued tension of the muscles of the back and the unnatural position of the body, causes fatigue and a rush of blood to the head.” This device, from an inventor in Media, Pennsylvania, was one of many that promised to ease the burden.....[ More ]

HARROW, DRILL AND ROLLER:

“Especially designed for tilling the lands of the large Western prairies.” This cumbersome-looking device is a forerunner of the complex machinery used by agribusiness today. The inventor was the Reverend James P.....[ More ]

BAILING PRESS:

What is it used for? Compacting agricultural products that were to be sold, such as hay, corn husks, straw, moss and so forth. Reducing the volume of these goods meant cheaper transport by cart, barge or railroad.....[ More ]

MOWING:

This gadget is designed to “trim a lawn” so perhaps it would be more comfortable in a slide show on suburban domestic machinery. The patent holder was from Alliance, Ohio.....[ More ]

FEEDING THE SHEEP:

An inventor in Fitchburg, Mass., thought this patented arrangement of boards and hinges would save money on sheep feed and could also be used as a shearing table. It is doubtful he made any money from this patent.....[ More ]

MOWING MACHINE.

The article says “the prosecution of modern farming involves so many new and scientific details.” This most modern (in 1863) device was powered by a horse, but within a few short years, such machines were mostly steam-powered.....[ More ]

REAPING MACHINE:

Using a machine to mow a hay field was at first said to be “impossible and absurd to the last degree.” Inventors eventually developed a wide variety of agricultural machines that had different purposes and abilities.....[ More ]

SAWMILL:

The lumber business was booming in 1863. Many small sawmills like this one were situated near forests that were abundant until the late 19th century, and supplied building material for growing cities such as Boston, New York and Philadelphia.....[ More ]

MILKING:

Before large dairy factories, butter, milk and cheese were made on the farm. This Colvin and Kershow cow-milker won a medal at the 1862 International Exhibition in London. I suspect this inventor is dressed in his “Sunday best” suit to show off his invention.....[ More ]

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