Farm Equipment Exposed: 19th Century Collectible Advertising Leaflets Give New Perspective on Huber Mfg. Co.

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Image 1: The outside covers of a late 1880s Huber leaflet featuring company founder Edward Huber and an aerial drawing of the Huber plant in 1889.
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Image 3: From a late 1880s Huber leaflet: "The machine ... always does perfect work."
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Image 2: Two outside panels of a late 1880s Huber leaflet: The Huber on the road and in the field.
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Image 4: From a late 1880s Huber leaflet: Gear side drawing shows intricate detail of a fine engraving.
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Image 5: This Huber leaflet, dating to the late 1880s, illustrates the farmer's frustration at another sales pitch.

Two rare pieces of collectible literature give unique insight into Huber Mfg. Co. of Marion, Ohio.

During its long and successful history (the company was founded in 1875 and remained in operation until the 1980s), Huber issued annual catalogs as well as leaflets illustrating its latest “improved” products: farm and road building equipment.

The leaflets were among the dozens of inexpensive handouts folks would take home with them after a day at the local fair. Leaflets might also be found on the counters in a local hardware or general store. Though company catalogs were dated, the leaflets generally were not. Using Huber tractor catalogs found online, I was able to match both the steam engine and the separator (images 2 and 3) to equipment shown in a catalog published in 1888, corresponding to the height of leaflet distribution in the U.S.

Time is money

The Huber leaflet to the left on the opposite page is a four-part (three-fold) piece. The outside covers (image 1) feature company founder Edward Huber and an aerial drawing of the Huber plant in 1889. Although the equipment shown in the leaflet matches that shown in the company’s 1888 catalog, the piece probably remained in production for a few more years, at least until 1893. If there were more catalogs available between 1888 and 1893, a more precise date could be established.

Two more “outside” pages (image 2), printed in a tan duo-tone, are far more exciting than the covers. The first – “The Huber on the Road: Time is Money” – shows the engine-drawn separator racing against a cyclist and a horseman, with Father Time pedaling a high-wheeler (backward!) in the lead. The second scene shows Huber machines operating successfully in tandem, as the field is cleared in short order.

The interior of the leaflet, printed in blue, shows vital parts of the separator (image 3) and the engine in cross-section. Detailed drawings show the Huber boiler with the entire flue safely surrounded by water, and the Huber separator, with “only one belt used which insures every part to run at its proper speed.”

Characters tell the story

The second leaflet shows the same longitudinal section boiler in cross-section as well as a clearly described cross-section of the separator that “avoids the re-separation rendered necessary in all others.” It offers a fine drawing of the engine’s gear side (image 4), featuring the gear “cushioned to prevent strain on the cogs” and the swivel drawbar.

This four-part (three-fold) leaflet is printed in black-and-white. It includes animated characters (image 5), as did many trade leaflets of the era. The agent is unconvincing in his description of “our fire box engine … that takes lots of fuel and water” but the intrepid farmer won’t listen. “No use talking to me. I won’t have anything but a Huber Rig,” he says. “Their engine takes half the fuel that your fire box engine does.” Images on this piece also suggest a printing date between 1888 and 1893. FC

Jim Ward writes and publishes the quarterly Journal of the Postcard Historical Society and was editor of the Lancaster County (Pa.) Postcard Club’s newsletter for 17 years. For a complimentary copy of the Journal, write to him at 1795 Kleinfeltersville Rd., Stevens, PA 17578 or e-mail (noting “Farm Collector” in the subject line)

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