Farm Collector

The Birdsell Clover Thresher

Birdsell Mfg. Co., South Bend, Indiana, wasn’t just an early manufacturer: The company was also quick to get on board with showy advertising. This advertising sign, which dates to about 1872, is a uniquely colorful piece from an era when color was rarely seen in advertising.

After John Cromley Birdsell was granted a patent for his clover huller in 1855, he began building hullers on his farm near West Henrietta, New York. In 1863, he moved his operation to South Bend. The factory he and his sons built was the largest factory in South Bend at that time. Birdsell continued to manufacture clover and alfalfa hullers and farm wagons until 1931, when the company was bought out by Allis-Chalmers Mfg. Co.

The upper part of the sign is a multicolored woodcut of the Monitor Combined clover thresher and separator produced by Birdsell. The black-and-white woodcut illustration at the bottom shows the Birdsell factory.  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

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:

  • Published on Mar 8, 2016
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