Fencing the land became an obsession with
landowners during the late 1860s. Between 1866 and 1868, more than
300 non-barbed wire fence patents were issued. The advent of metal
wire fencing with points, which could be manufactured economically
by machine in huge quantities, set off a boom in fencing all across
Of interest is the fact that barbed wire advertisement was rare before 1880. This was probably the result of three factors:
extensive patent legal wrangling among companies and inventors;
demand for wire in excess of production capacity; and to avoid
conflict with that portion of the public who did not approve of the
“prickly barrier” perceived to be dangerous to livestock.
Black-and-white barbed wire ads appeared in the late
1870s. I.L. Ellwood & Co. used color images in 1880 to promote Glidden barbed wire. Vintage ads for Glidden Steel Barb Wire
seem directed at railroads, many of which had not fenced
their right-of-ways at that time, or use a circus theme to emphasize their effectiveness for confining animals. FC
Images courtesy of the Devil’s Rope Museum, McLean, Texas.
The original versions are part of the Ellwood House Museum
collection, DeKalb, Ill.
Advertisements from many farm publications printed at the
turn of the 20th century were more than mere methods to hawk
tractors and farm equipment. To share those ads from days gone
by, Farm Collector periodically reproduces some of the
most-spectacular ads used to promote farm equipment and