Chromolithograph Ad for Aspinwall Potato Planters

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Photo courtesy of David Schnakenberg

Sometime during the late 1890s, Aspinwall Mfg. Co., Jackson, Mich., contracted with Meek & Beach Co., Coshocton, Ohio, to produce a magnificent advertising sign for the company’s line of potato implements, including potato planters. An oval illustration in the center shows a farmer riding on a horse-drawn potato planter pulled by a beautiful team of horses. At each corner are potato-shaped insets illustrating Aspinwall’s potato machinery line, including diggers, sorters, 4-row sprayers and cutters.

Encircled by a gold band around the oval and at its borders, the image has a striking three-dimensional effect – perhaps because the chromolithograph was printed on fine linen cloth rather than paper. This same image was also produced on a tin advertising sign of the same size (24 by 20 inches). It is believed that only one surviving example of each of those signs exists today.

According to an article by Sam Moore in the June 2000 issue of Farm Collector, L.L. Aspinwall began development of a potato planter in 1861. He opened his first factory in 1884 in Three Rivers, Mich. He moved the company to Jackson, Mich., in 1891. Aspinwall went out of business in the early 1920s. McKenzie Mfg. Co., La Crosse, Wis., bought the potato equipment line in 1925. McKenzie became a division of Oliver Farm Equipment Co. in 1929. 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 e-mail:

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