J.I. Case Steam Engines Abroad

J.I. Case sends steam engines to work in France

An early Case 12-20 gas tractor and a 20 x 28 Case thresher

An early Case 12-20 gas tractor and a 20 x 28 Case thresher in front of Silvy Brothers, agents for Case in France in 1921-1922 at Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. This picture is presumed to have been taken in 1922, as the 12-20 was first introduced that year.

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In 1869 J.I. Case introduced his first steam engine, an 8 HP portable engine now affectionately referred to as Old No. 1.

Less than 10 years later annual steam engine sales at Case climbed to 220, and within another 10 years the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. was the largest manufacturer of agricultural steam engines in the world. By the time production of steam engines at J.I. Case ceased in 1924, the Case company had built an estimated 36,000 steam engines of varying size and design.

The North American market was, of course, central to the growth and success of J.I. Case's company. Even so, it was recognized within the company early on that success in overseas markets would be critical to the company's continued growth and prosperity.

As early as 1878, Case sent a thresher to France, where it won first prize in the Paris Exposition that year before being put to work on a French farm. The developing markets in Europe, North Africa, South America and the Middle East encouraged Case to build their presence overseas, and by 1908 the company had established branches in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Odessa, Russia, Melbourne, Australia and Paris, France.

Iron-Men Album reader Pierre Bos, a resident of Marseille, France's second-largest city, has collected images of Case's presence in France in the early part of the 20th century, and he has graciously provided a sample of his collection for the pleasure of IMA readers.

The photographs and postcards presented here date from 1907 to around 1921. Documenting a variety of Case equipment, from portables to traction engines and threshers, these photos show Case engines and equipment in a variety of venues, from agricultural expositions to working farms.

Photographs of American-made steam engines operating outside of North America are a rare treat, and we're indebted to Pierre for providing readers with a wonderful look at Case's presence overseas, a reminder of Case's prominence in the agricultural market at a time when steam was king.

Contact steam enthusiast Pierre Bos at: "La Cerisaie," 16, BD. DIE, F.13012, Marseille, France. 

Contact Iron-Men Album editor Richard Backus at: 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265, or e-mail at: rbackus@ogdenpubs.com.