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Iron Age Ads: The New Empire

This ad, from an undated Empire sales catalog, advertised J.F. Seiberling and Co. equipment.

| September 2019


In 1861, John Frederick Seiberling, along with several others, started the Excelsior Mower & Reaper Co. in Doylestown, Ohio, to build a new mower and reaper that Seiberling had invented.

The machine, with a dropper to leave the gavels of grain so they could be easily tied into sheaves, was a success and the company prospered.

Despite that success, Seiberling soon withdrew from the firm and developed a new-and-improved mower-reaper that he called the “Empire,” which he produced on a small scale.

Meanwhile, the old Excelsior company fell upon hard times. In 1880, its assets, including a factory in Akron, Ohio, were liquidated. Seiberling bought the old Akron Excelsior plant where, by 1890, he employed 300 men and turned out nearly 3,500 Empire mowers and reapers and a similar number of Empire grain binders each year.

During the financial panic of 1896- 1897, the Empire Works went under, and Seiberling was forced to make an assignment of everything he owned in probate court. Seiberling died on Sept. 3, 1903.


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