The Storied History of the Massey-Harris Co.

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Illustration courtesy David Schnakenberg
This poster from a 1902 Massey-Harris Co. calendar shows an elegantly dressed woman delivering a basket lunch to farmers in the field.

This poster from a 1902 Massey-Harris Co. calendar shows an elegantly dressed woman delivering a basket lunch to farmers in the field. During the first 40 years of the last century, several major manufacturers of farm machinery commissioned famous calendar artists to compose their advertising calendars. This illustration, signed by artist A.H. Hider, shows farmers working in the field with Massey-Harris horse-drawn grain binders, mowers and a tillage tool.

In 1847, Daniel Massey established Massey Mfg. Co. in Newcastle, Ontario, Canada. Alanson Harris formed A. Harris, Son & Co. in 1857. Harris built the Kirby hand reaper, and bought patents to Sharp’s dump rake. A. Harris, Son & Co. was moved to Toronto in 1879; the company bought Toronto Reaper & Mower Co. in 1881.

Massey-Harris Co. was formed in Toronto with the merger of Massey Mfg. and A. Harris, Son & Co. in 1891. In subsequent years, Massey-Harris Co. affiliated with W.H. Verity & Sons in 1892, purchased 40 percent of the Sawyer Co. and renamed the company Sawyer-Massey. Massey-Harris, still in operation as a separate business, purchased Corbin Disc Harrow Co. in 1893, Bain Wagon Co. in 1895 and Kemp Manure Spreader Co., Stratford, Ontario, in 1904.

To gain access to the U.S. market, Massey-Harris purchased Johnston Harvester Co., Batavia, New York, in 1910. In 1913, the company purchased Deyo-Macey Engine Co., Binghamton, New York. Massey-Harris purchased J.I. Case Plow Works, Racine, Wisconsin, in 1927, selling the J.I Case name to J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. that year. In 1928, Massey-Harris entered the tractor market with the Case Plow Works purchase and its Wallis tractor.

Massey-Harris purchased an interest in H.V. McKay Proprietary Ltd., Australia, in 1930 for its combines. In 1948, the company purchased Globe Disc Works, Fowler, California. In 1953, Massey-Harris acquired Harry Ferguson, Inc. to form Massey-Harris-Ferguson Ltd.; the company’s name was shortened to Massey Ferguson in 1957. In 1986, Massey Ferguson changed its name to Verity Corp. In 1993, AGCO Company, Atlanta, Georgia, purchased the marketing and distribution operations of Massey-Harris Farm Equipment from the Verity Corp. Verity Corp sold the rest of the Massey Ferguson division to AGCO in 1994. 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.

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 email:

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