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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org