Iron Age Ads: The Louden Machinery Company

The Louden Company built a wide variety of barn equipment items, some of which can be seen in these vintage advertisements.

| October 2008

Whether a barn was of conventional design or not, if it was built after 1867 chances were good that it included at least one feature from the Louden Machinery Company, Fairfield, Iowa. Specializing in barn and stable equipment, Louden was a primary supplier of hay tools; barn and garage door hangers; dairy barn equipment; litter, feed and milk can carriers; cupolas, ventilators and drains.

As these illustrations from the 1920 Louden catalog show (click through the image gallery to see more), the company developed a full science of design and outfitting. In fact, Louden employed an architectural department that offered, at no charge, advice in all phases of farm building and agricultural engineering; blueprints, floor plans and cross-sectional views; and personal visits from Louden field representatives.

For collectors of hay tools such as hay trolleys (carriers), slings and forks, Louden catalogs (known among collectors as Louden barn books) provide a wealth of information. For those interested in farms of the past, the books are packed with black-and-white photos of handsome American farmsteads (all of which, coincidentally, are Louden installations).

While the photos are not necessarily representative of the typical farm (many show large and elaborate layouts), they do give interesting insights into farm practices of another era. The 1920 edition, for instance, shows piles of alfalfa curing in the field, each topped with a large white cloth or tarp presumably designed to shed water. Photos on another page show an ice harvesting operation (using a Louden hoist).

Historic barns are a fascinating counterpoint to the story of farm mechanization, and the Louden company is a major component of that.

To submit a vintage advertisement for possible 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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