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Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co.

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 products.

Advertisement taken from The American Thresherman, November 1902 .

To submit a vintage advertisement for possible publication, send it to: Iron Age Ads, Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; or submit high-quality digital images by e-mail:

After two unsuccessful attempts to form a threshing machine company, John McDonald’s wish finally came true in 1887 when he moved from Fond du Lac, Wis., to Hopkins, Minn., where he built and established the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co.

The firm only built threshing machines and sold Huber steam traction engines in its early days, but by 1891 the firm had 150 steam engines of its own built and ready for market.

Business followed for MTM, and McDonald had the pre science of mind to envision the rise of the gasoline tractor even before the turn of the 20th century. Before he could turn those ideas into action, McDonald lost company control to F.E. Kenaston, who ditched the gas engine idea in favor of expanding the company into the Canadian market.

The Canadian experiment didn’t pan out too well, in part because Kenaston insisted on manufacturing steam engines even as the market moved toward gasoline power. Mergers with Abell Engine & Machine Works and Advance Thresher Co. became liabilities, as well.

The firm bounced back in 1911 by finally offering a Universal Tractor Co. gasoline-powered tractor, and in 1912 the company produced its own Walter McVicker-designed tractor, the ‘Minneapolis Farm Motor.’

It continued to produce both gasoline tractors and prairie-type combines until the firm was gobbled up by the Minneapolis-Moline Power Implement Co. in 1929 as part of an industry-wide trend to consolidate small companies into larger, nationally competitive corporations. FC

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