Iron Age Ads: McCormick Harvesting Machine Co.

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This color lithograph originally appeared on
the back cover of the 1889 McCormick Harvesting Machine Co.

The McCormick Harvesting Machine Co., founded in Chicago 1879,
traces its roots through co-founders Cyrus Hall McCormick and his
brother, Leander. The two brothers had been in a sometimes rocky
partnership with their father, William, and a number of investors.
By 1880, six years after Cyrus’ death, his widow and son, Cyrus
Jr., purchased Leander’s share for $3.25 million. Leander, who died
20 years later, never again had anything to do with the manufacture
of reapers and farm implements.

Cyrus Hall McCormick was totally committed to “perfecting” the
reaper, and spent much of his life at that task. His father’s
experimentation with reapers on the family’s Virginia farm was the
likely source of Cyrus’ later interest.

By 1889, the company’s products included a number of reapers,
binders and mowers – some based on technology licensed – or
otherwise borrowed – from others.

At the time of the catalog’s publication, the “Harvester Wars”
were beginning to escalate. It would take the experienced and
trusted hand of George W. Perkins of J.P. Morgan Co. in New York
City to guide the “Harvester Kings” to an amicable and profitable
peace. That peace came with a large and complex merger in 1902,
resulting in formation of the International Harvester Co.

Westward expansion leading to near eradication of the American
Buffalo, along with the Native Americans, was obviously a symbol of
the taming of a wild land. The message in the marketing art is
clear: McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. products make the once-wild
land productive, even useful.

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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