State of the Art Burrall Corn Sheller

Burrall Corn Sheller Delivered Advanced Technology

| August 2012

  • Green
    Whether by accident or design, the Burrall name is misspelled on this rare Munnsville Plow Co. No. 10 sheller. The piece also shows a commonly used but invalid patent date of March 14, 1863.
  • Vintage Corn Shellers
    Vintage corn shellers and signs fill the loft in Chuck Heckroth’s barn.
  • Corn Processing Equipment
    The Burrall corn sheller was a breakthrough in corn processing equipment.
  • Patina
    A rare Burrall sheller made by Keystone Farm Machine Works, York, Penn. 
  • Black
    A Gould’s No. 2 Burrall sheller, the most common of the Burrall shellers. This piece also shows the invalid March 14, 1863, patent date.
  • Red
    Manufactured by W.D. Burrall (presumably a relative of T.D. Burrall), Waterloo, N.Y., this sheller carries the correct March 24, 1863 patent date.
  • Accent
    Fashioned in the same style as Burralls built by New York Plow Co., this sheller has exceptional original paint but no patent date or manufacturer’s name.
  • Gold Letters
    A Canadian-made Burrall with beaver and maple leaves, produced by James Smart Mfg. Co., Ltd., Brockville, Ontario.
  • Wheel
    Chuck has no proof, but he believes this sheller was the inspiration for Thomas Burrall’s 1845 “improvement in corn shellers.” The piece is cast with “Adriance” and “P’T Po’ke’psie,” likely a forerunner of Adriance, Platt & Co., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
  • Postcard
    This envelope from Downs & Co. Mfg. Co., Seneca Falls, N.Y., shows the famed Burrall sheller.

  • Green
  • Vintage Corn Shellers
  • Corn Processing Equipment
  • Patina
  • Black
  • Red
  • Accent
  • Gold Letters
  • Wheel
  • Postcard

In an era when satellites steer tractors, it’s hard to imagine the days when an improved corn sheller represented cutting-edge technology. But in the 1840s, a corn sheller manufactured by Thomas D. Burrall, Geneva, N.Y., did just that.

“In the 1840s, most shellers did not separate the cob from the corn,” explains collector Chuck Heckroth, Dryden, Mich. “Burrall was perhaps the first to invent a sheller that did.” In use, shellers of the 1840s simply deposited cobs and kernels in a pile on the ground. The working mechanisms of most were fully exposed and made no accommodation for a bucket to catch the corn.

Patented in 1845, the Burrall sheller was an important improvement in corn shellers. Decades later, it remained a hot commodity. “Even after 1900, it was still shown in the Farm Implement News Buyers Guide as being produced by a number of companies,” Chuck says. Replacement parts were offered by Messinger Mfg. Co., Tatamy, Pa., as recently as 1948.

Booming business

Thomas D. Burrall Mfg. Co. was established in about 1812 in Geneva. Burrall designed and produced threshing machines, cultivators, corn shellers, plows, mowers, reapers and a drill that applied seed and manure in a single operation.



In 1855, with a workforce of 40, Burrall Mfg. produced 250 reapers and other implements with a total value of $30,000 (approximately $770,000 today).

Almost no formal documentation exists on Burrall shellers, so Chuck has had to draw his own conclusions through exhaustive research and conversations with collectors. “I’m sure that Burrall manufactured shellers, but by the 1880s, other companies — including Goulds Mfg. Co. and Rumsey & Co., both of nearby Seneca Falls, N.Y. — also manufactured Burrall shellers,” he says. “Whether they paid royalties or not, I don’t know. I do know that in one case, Burrall sued another manufacturer for patent infringement.” That case was ultimately dismissed.



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