Iron Age Ads

One perfect day on the farm

| February 2005

  • OnePerfectDayontheFarm.jpg

  • OnePerfectDayontheFarm.jpg

Any student of advertising knows a wide gulf exists between reality and the world depicted in commercial art. That's hardly a new development, as this promotional illustration for Emerson-Brantingham Manufacturing Company shows.

In this bucolic scene, virtually all farm activities are occurring on the same day: plowing, disking, harrowing, drilling, manure spreading, mowing, raking, haying, baling and even threshing … all with Emerson-Brantingham equipment. Everything from horse-drawn equipment to steam-powered machinery, and even some gas-powered equipment, is shown to great advantage. A stationary engine in the shed runs a lineshaft providing power to a saw, feed grinder and grindstone. Emerson-Brantingham buggies are parked at various spots on the estate, and an Emerson-Brantingham steam roller is at work on the road. Even the Newton wagon is an Emerson-Brantingham brand.

Though Emerson-Brantingham Manufacturing incorporated in 1909, its "roots" reach back to the mid-1800s. The founding Emerson was a cousin of poet Ralph Waldo Emerson's. The partnership of Ralph Emerson and Charles Brantingham quickly gained prominence in the farm equipment world through acquisition of Geiser Mfg. Co., Osborne Harvesting Equipment Co. and La Crosse Hay Tool Co. The addition of several other concerns (manufacturers of buggies, wagons, drills, gas engines and tractors) rounded out their offering. By about 1915, Emerson-Brantingham was able to supply steam and petroleum power, and equipment for planting, tilling and harvesting as well as transportation.

In 1928, J.I. Case bought the by-then financially struggling organization. Case continued to operate the huge Emerson-Brantingham plant in Rockford, Ill., until 1970, when the sun finally set on one perfect day on the farm.

At right: A very well-dressed farmer points out his Emerson-Brantingham plow to the visiting dealer, who responds "Yes, and they have proved to you that they are easier to handle, lighter craft, and more durable than any others." Advertising broadside from the collection of Charles Zeeb, Sioux Falls, S.D. (for more on Zeeb's collection, see pages 22-23 in this issue).

Farm Collector reproduces some of the most spectacular advertisements used to promote farm equipment and farm products in days gone by. 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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