Corn Planter Identification and Grain Planter Question

One of our experts weighs in on a letter from our June issue, and a reader presents a new mystery.

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by David Ruark

Looking for information on early corn planter

antique early corn planter beside measuring tape

I acquired this planter at an estate sale. One side is marked L Denney’s Pennsylvania Corn Planter Patented June 3, 1856. The other side reads Nourse Maso? & Co., Boston & Worcestershire, Mass. The planter was patented in 1856, patent No. 15,035. It measures about 30 inches long. Does anyone know anything about this piece?

Phyllis Hamilton, Melbourne, Florida; email:

Answer from an expert: Sam Moore to the rescue

I just got the June issue of Farm Collector and perhaps can offer a very small amount of information in answer to one of the letters to the editor.

Phyllis Hamilton of Melbourne, Florida, asked for any information on a wooden hand corn planter she has. One side is stenciled L. Denney’s Pennsylvania Corn Planter Patented June 3, 1856, while the other side is marked, Nourse Maso? & Co., Boston & Worcestershire, Mass. She also gives the 1856 patent number of 15,035.

There’s not much hard information out there about either Mr. Denney, or the Nourse, Mason & Co., but here’s what little I know.

Samuel Lewis Denney was born in 1791 and died in 1869. He was said to be mechanically inclined and opened a cabinet shop near Christiana in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He seems to have been a tinkerer and several patents were issued to him.

The history of the Nourse, Mason & Co. is equally obscure. It seems to have been established about the middle of the 19th century, and by 1857 was offering a large assortment of agricultural machines. These included many different styles of walking plows, harrows, seeders, cultivators of various kinds, rollers, corn shellers, sugar and cane mills, grindstones, road scrapers, fanning mills, Ketchum mowing machines, horsepowers, threshers, sawmills, churns and sausage stuffers. Oddly, their 1859 price list didn’t mention the Denney corn planter. They did sell two corn planters, both horse-drawn, walk-behind versions. One was the Batchelder’s patent machine at $14, and the Billings’ patent machine for a dollar more.

After looking carefully at Samuel Denney’s patent drawing and reading his description of its mechanical workings, I’d guess that it was too complicated and too likely to get out of order to be very successful.

Sometime, probably during the early 1870s, Nourse, Mason & Co. was taken over by Ames Plow Co., Boston. An 1876 Ames catalog identifies Ames Plow Co. as the successor to the Nourse, Mason & Co. Ames didn’t sell the Denney planter either, but the Billings and Batchelder machines were listed.

It’s not much, but perhaps more than Ms. Hamilton knew before.

— Sam Moore via email

Looking for grain drill manufacturer

We’ve been given this setting plate for a grain drill. There is no manufacturer’s name or emblem on it. It has a casting number: A 594. It’s for a 7-inch spacing drill and has settings for wheat, barley, oats, peas and flax on the low-speed drive. Does anyone know the maker of this drill?

— David Ruark, 274 Malone Hill Rd., Pomeroy, WA 99347

Send letters to:
Farm Collector Editorial,
1503 SW 42nd St.,
Topeka, KS 66609;
Fax: (785) 274 – 4385
online at Farm Collector

  • Updated on Jul 14, 2022
  • Originally Published on Jun 24, 2022
Tagged with: letter to the editor, letters, Old Iron Questions
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