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Power of the Press: Collins Plow Co. Eli Baling Presses

Iron Age Ads: Stephens Lithograph & Engineering Co. chromolithograph advertisement for Collins Plow Co. Eli Baling Presses

| January 2012

  • Collins Plow Co.
    Chromolithograph advertisement by Stephens Lithograph & Engineering Co. for Collins Plow Co. Eli Baling Presses.

  • Collins Plow Co.

Collins Plow Co., Quincy, Ill., commissioned Stephens Lithograph & Engineering Co., St. Louis, Mo., to produce this large (27 by 20 inches) chromolithograph of its line of Eli baling presses in the mid- to late 1880s. The image consists of three insets depicting hay presses. The center inset shows a belt-driven hay press; the lower two show a horse-powered reversible lever power press and a horse-powered continuous power press. Despite the fact that the artwork is especially outstanding, the Eli brand name is not shown on the sides of the presses.

In 1845, William Battell, Collins’ forerunner, began making plows in Mendon, Ill. Battell moved to Quincy in 1855 and formed a partnership with James Woodruff and Frederick Boyd. Woodruff soon left the partnership. In 1865, William H. Collins bought out the interest of Frederick Boyd. The firm was called Battell & Collins Co.; it manufactured plows, cultivators, hay presses and balers. In 1880, J.W. Brown joined in partnership with William Collins; in 1882, the company was incorporated as the Collins Plow Co.

According to an 1899 Collins Plow Co. catalog, the trade name Eli first appeared as a logo on Collins presses in 1889. The company became one of the leading manufacturers of all sizes of hay presses and remained in that trade until going out of business in 1933. FC 

Grateful acknowledgement is given to David Schnakenberg, who contributed this image from his collection of pre-1910 chromolithographs of farm machinery advertising. For more information, contact him at 10108 Tamarack Dr., Vienna, VA 22182; (703) 938-8606;; view the Schnakenberg Collection at the Farm Machinery Advertising Art Ebay store.

To submit a vintage advertisement for publication, send it to: Iron Age Ads, Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; or submit high-quality digital images by email:


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