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Does this cotton seed sorter ring a bell?

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By Farm Collector readers

Help one Farm Collector reader learn more about a mysterious cotton seed sorter!

cotton sorter
Clarence Gibbs

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I have this piece, which is stenciled with the words Carolina Cotton Seed Sorter. I’ve searched everywhere for information about it but have not found anything. Does anyone know anything about this?

Clarence Gibbs, Inman, South Carolina

Editor’s note: We’ve run this up a few flagpoles, and it turns out that the sorter was built by Keystone Farm Machine Co., York, Pennsylvania. “From studying the photos, it definitely seems to be a sorter, with graded screens from top to bottom,” says Bill Friday, Huntsville, Alabama. “The southern cotton economy has always used the hairy-seed upland cotton variety, as opposed to the Sea Island or Pima bare-seed variety, which has always been a big problem for mechanical planters, because the seeds stick together. The same would be equally true for this sorter. Therefore, I would guess that it was a speculative venture, and I would also guess that it was difficult to the point of being impossible to use.” 

Tony Mullins tracked down a patent (U.S. Patent No. 1,264,200) identifying the piece as a cotton seed grader. The patent was awarded to Harry Malsberger, York, Pennsylvania, assignor to Henry C. Niles of York County, Pennsylvania, on April 30, 1918. What do you say, readers: Anyone recognize this piece?

Farm Collector Magazine

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