An Early and Unusual Corn Sheller

Large disc corn sheller may date to the 1850s


| June 2012



Bruce Knight and Corn Sheller

Bruce Knight with the Evans sheller.

When Bruce Knight, Georgetown, Ind., discovered an unusual disc corn sheller at an antique auction in southern Indiana, he was hooked. “I found this over-sized disc sheller in an old dilapidated barn out behind the auction site, propped up in a corner,” he says. “I was determined to buy the thing no matter how much it brought because I had never seen such a large old sheller anywhere.”

The corn sheller’s wheel measures 32 inches in diameter. Its original wood frame and the arm used to hold the ear against the huge wheel are intact. A casting on the inside of the wheel reads, “Made and sold by G. Evans, Pittsburgh.” 

“It’s got to be very old,” Bruce says. “But I’ve checked with other collectors and on the Internet and I haven’t come up with much information other than it may date to the 1850s.”

A similar piece — known as Harrison’s corn sheller — also employed a large vertical wheel. It was said to be capable of shelling 10 to 12 bushels per hour. An 1858 advertisement noted that the Harrison was so light and portable that it could be easily moved from site to site. “One machine will serve for several families,” the ad proclaimed, “or even the inhabitants of a small town.”

Bruce’s display trailer features a large variety of corn shellers, but the Evans sheller is in a class by itself. “The wheel must weigh at least 100 pounds,” Bruce says. “It was very difficult getting it out of the barn and loaded on my trailer.”

Bruce tried the sheller when he got home from the auction and found that it takes two people to operate it. “Once you get that wheel revolving,” he says, “the momentum will really take the kernels off the cob. It sure is an unusual old piece of equipment. At some time during its life it did a lot of useful work.” FC