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Picnic with the Empire Grain Drill

A family spends the afternoon watching the man of the house work the field with his Empire grain drill in this sign from the 1890s.

| October 2015

  • This Empire Drill Co. ad portrays the kind of romanticized farm scene typical of promotional pieces of the era.
    Illustration courtesy David Schnakenberg

If this image is to be believed, life on the farm at the close of the 1800s was a genteel existence indeed. Here, an immaculately turned-out family spends a leisurely afternoon picnicking and watching the man of the house as he sows wheat with his horse-drawn Empire grain drill. The tablecloth being spread by the little girl is inscribed, “Empire Drill Co., Shortsville, NY.”

This chromolithograph advertising sign dates to the 1890s. Issued by Empire Drill Co., Shortsville, New York, the image portrays the kind of romanticized farm scene typical of promotional pieces of the era.

 In 1854, Hiram L. and Calvin P. Brown established a factory to manufacture grain drills in Shortsville. A few years later, the firm incorporated as Empire Drill Co. In 1903, Empire and several other grain drill manufacturers merged to form American Seeding Machine Co. in Springfield, Ohio, which subsequently merged with Oliver Chilled Plow, Hart-Paar Co., and Nichols & Shepard Threshing Machine Co. in 1929 to form the Oliver Farm Equipment Co. 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; or by email; view the Schnakenberg Collection online.

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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