Drill End Plates: The Ends Justify the Means

End plates for press drills and grain drills make up impressive collection

| October 1999

  • Roger Eshelman's display of cast iron drill box end plates at a Waukee, Iowa, show
    Roger Eshelman's display of cast iron drill box end plates at a Waukee, Iowa, show. "They haven't made them with cast iron for 50-60 years," Roger says. "If it's cast iron, it must be at least 60 years old."
  • A Hoosier grain drill
    A Hoosier grain drill
  • As the plates are found,
    As the plates are found, "in the wild." Drill ends weigh from 10-20 pounds each. "They're pretty heavy pieces of iron," Rogert Eshelman says.
  • Margie and Roger Eshelman with pieces from their collection.
    Margie and Roger Eshelman with pieces from their collection. The "Improved Fertilizer" plate at left featured an elaborate border; while the Buckeye plate at right sports a "clock face," which was actually an acre measure.
  • "I'm not a painter as far as painting a scene," Roger says, "but drill ends have raised lettering and indented parts ... so much detail, contrast."
  • Wild roses grace the American Seeding Machine Company plate
    Wild roses grace the American Seeding Machine Company plate.
  • The Hayes Company of Galva, Ill., was primarily known for its corn planters.
    The Hayes Company of Galva, Ill., was primarily known for its corn planters.

  • Roger Eshelman's display of cast iron drill box end plates at a Waukee, Iowa, show
  • A Hoosier grain drill
  • As the plates are found,
  • Margie and Roger Eshelman with pieces from their collection.
  • Wild roses grace the American Seeding Machine Company plate
  • The Hayes Company of Galva, Ill., was primarily known for its corn planters.

With more than 300 pieces in his collection, Roger Eshelman has a nice selection of cast iron end plates from wooden box drills and seeders. But even in his wildest dreams, he knows he'll never have them all. 

"My collection represents 102 different companies and 290 different parts numbers," he says. "But I'll bet there's another 400-500 plates out there that I've never heard of."

Roger, a retired teacher living in College Springs, Iowa, says that numbers like those don't translate into a widely available collectible.

"These days, I get the biggest share of my plates at swap meets, or sales of collectors," he says. "You can still get some from junk dealers. And in Nebraska and the Dakotas, there's still some out there. But in Iowa, there's been so many scrap drives, that kind of stuff has almost vanished." Once, though, the drill end plate was as common as the dandelion.



"They made hundreds and hundreds of different ones," Roger says. "Each company may have made anywhere from six to 20 different ones. Some were from press drills, some were from drop seeders, but they were basically from grain drills and seeders."

With multiple manufacturers came a wide variety of drill end plates.