Do you know that the Book of Job in the Old Testament begins with an allusion to the plow, or that the harrow is mentioned three times in the Bible?
Are you aware that the ancient Egyptians scattered seed upon the mud left by the receding waters of the Nile, and that flocks of sheep or goats trod the seed into the soil?
You probably know that for a long, long time artists have depicted 'Time' as an old man with wings, holding a scythe in his hand.
Perhaps you also know that nails are mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of Judges, and in other parts of the Bible.
'Rural America a Century Ago,' edited by S. H. Rosenberg and published by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, is filled with all sorts of information like this as it tells the history of farm implements used in the 1800s.
If there are any implements missing we don't know what they could be.
Each tool or process is described, along with a short history. The illustrations, done by patent office engravers of the time, are excellent examples of the art.
The book is of value to anyone interested in the way of life of his ancestors of a century or so ago, and of how things developed to that point.
Iron-Men Album readers should be especially interested in 10 pages near the back of the book which deal specifically with steam.
Here we learn some fascinating things. For instance, the original steam engine is said to have been exhibited in Alexandria, Egypt, in 150 B.C. Also, the first steam engine built in the United States was constructed in Philadelphia in 1779. In about the year 1620, one Solomon De Caus wrote a book in which he claims to have invented a steam engine.
There is a section on rotary and oscillating steam engines and one on steam and air brakes. The book's last chapter concerns air and gas engines.
This Society of Agricultural Engineers' 'reprint' provides a good view of rural life in America in the 1800s and how it got that way, through a look at the machines and processes of the time and how they were developed.
In a forward, engineer G. B. Gunlogson makes the observation that this nation has progressed from a pioneer stage to where we can, through television, see a mechanical arm seeking signs of life on Mars. He says that 'inventions and technology will continue to unfold the future of mankind.'
We owe a lot to agriculture and to engineering and to the people of the last century who worked well with what they had, yet used their ingenuity and inventiveness to devise better ways of doing things.