History of lawn mowers

The Great National Field Trial of Mowers and Reapers held at Auburn, N. Y., in July, 1868, under the patronage of the Legislature and supervision of the New York State Agricultural Society, was the most thorough and extensive ever held in this country. Fifty-nine machines were entered for competition, and over two weeks occupied in subjecting the machines to every variety of severe tests. The Legislature of the State appropriated $5000 towards the expenses and premiums.

The Committee of Judges was composed of practical and scientific agriculturists,* and included some of the first men of the State. The following synopsis of their report will be found to embody the main results of their investigation, and cannot fail of being of great use to Farmers. Invitations were extended to all the prominent Agricultural Implement Makers of the country. The following points were to be considered and determined by the Committee on trial.

1. Which is the cheapest machine.

2. The most simple in its construction.

3. The most durable.

4. Which requires the least power.

5. Which has the least side-draught.

All of which is to be determined, and the capacity to perform a given amount of work in a workmanlike manner, in a given time, in the most economical way.

6. Which does the most work in the least time.

7. Which does the best work.

8. Which is managed with the most facility.

When the Judges have determined the above questions, they will proceed to decide which of the machines is best adapted to the use of the farmer by having the greatest number of merits and the fewest defects.

No exhibitor shall furnish other machines for trial than those which they habitually furnish from their shops to their customers.

The following were the class divisions for entry of MOWERS and REAPERS.

No. 1. Mowing machine for two horses.

No. 2. Reaping machines, (hand-rakers.)

No. 2 1/2. Self-rakers.

No. 3. Combined mowers and reapers, (hand-rakers.)

No. 4. Combined reapers, with self-raking or dropping attachment.

No. 5. Combined reapers for use as self-rakers, or hand-rakers, as may be preferred.

No. 6. One-horse mowers.


The Society's large gold medal (costing $75 or more) as first premium. For the second premium, a cash prize of $25.

The mowing and reaping fields were each of one acre in extent, and to be chosen by lot.

Explanation.--Assuming that 40 to represent the best work that can be done; No. 30, as representing the best work that can be done with a band-scythe; No. 20, as inferior work to any that would be tolerated by a respectable farmer. The gradations of work to be expressed by numbers intermediate to these. Standard speed, one hour per acre.




D. M. Osborne & Co., Auburn, New York. No. 1 Mower. "Cut uneven and not very close." Time, 54 minutes; quality mark, 33.

D. M. Osborne & Co. Entry No. 2. One mower, (large,) entered also as No. 27, 37, 48, and 19. Lot No. 7, hilly, time, 50 minutes; quality, 37. "Worked smoothly and well." No. 48, hilly; time, 48 minutes; quality, 32.

C. C. Bradley & Son, Syracuse. Entry No. 3. One "Hubbard" mower, "well done;" time, 61 min., quality, 37.

E. F. Herrington, Valley Falls, N. Y. No. 4. One Eagle mower. Same as entry No. 29. Lot No. 20, stony and weedy; cut close; time, 58 minutes, quality, 38.

J. D. Wilber, Poughkeepsie. No. 5. One Eureka mower; cut well against the lay of the clover; not well with it; time, 44 1/2 minutes; quality mark, 25.

J. D. Wilber. No. 6. One Eureka mower, (large,) time, 35 minutes; mark, 20; joints hot.

Peekskill Manufacturing Co. No. 7. One Clipper mower, (invented by R. Dutton.) Cut uneven, but well laid; time 43 minutes; quality, 30.

Walter A. Wood, Hoosick Falls. No. 8. One mower. Lot bad to cut, stony, clover tall, cut tolerably well; time, 49 1/2 minutes; quality mark, 29.

Dow & Fowler, Fowlersville. No. 9. One Yankee mower. Cutting uneven, noisy, and bearings hot, time, 46 minutes, quality, 28.

Adriance, Platt & Co., Poughkeepsie. No. 10. One No. 2 Buckeye mower. Lot much trodden down; time, 55 1/2 minutes; cut even and neatly; quality, 40.

American Agricultural Works, New York. No. 11. One Columbian Junior Mower. Lot easy to cut; time, 66 minutes; quality, 37; very noisy.

Dodge & Stevenson, Manufacturing Co., Auburn. No. 12. One No. 2 Iron Mower, Ohio and Buckeye Patents combined. (Dodge's Patent.) Time, 61 1/2 minutes; quality, 29; cutting irregular.

C. A. Wheeler, Jr., Auburn. No. 13. One mower, (A); No. 14. One mower, (B); No. 15. One mower, (C); No. 16. One mower (D). No. 13, (A,) cut well but not close; time 44 min.; quality, 32. No. 14, (B.) cutting irregular; time, 48 1/2 min.; quality, 37. No. 15, (C,) cutting fair; time, 44 min.; quality, 36. No. 16, (D,) cutting good; time, 44 1/2 min.; quality, 35.

W. H. Halladay, Auburn. No. 17. One American Mower; cut close; time, 68 minutes; quality, 33.

Rhode Island Clipper Mower Co., Newport. No 18. One two-horse Harvest Clipper Mower, (invented by B. Dutton.) Stubble long; time 55 minutes; quality, 32; bearings cool.

C. R. Brinckerhoff. No. 18 1/2. One mower, cutting bad; time, 53; quality, 22.


D. M. Osborne & Co., Auburn, No. 19. One Reaper (handrake); "work good, not a fault to be found;" ten sheaves were bound in 4 min., time 64 min.; quality, 40.

C. Wheeler, jr., Auburn. No. 20. One Reaper (handrake).


C. R. Brinckerhoff, Rochester. No. 21. One Reaper (self-rake).

C. C. Bradley & Son, Syracuse. No. 22. One Syracuse (self-raking) Reaper, time 48 min.; mark

Walter A. Wood, Hoosick Falls. No. 23. One Reaper, self-raking (chain-rake). No. 24. One Reaper (sweep-rake); same entry as No. 40. No. 23. Not cut close; time 47 and 55 min.; quality, 28 and 35. No. 24. Field good; tolerably well cut; time 48 min.; quality, 35.

Stephen Hull, Poughkeepsie. No. 25. One Reaper (selfrake), withdrawn.

N. A. Dederer Greene. No. 26. One Reaper {self-raker); did not arrive.

D. M. Osborne & Co., Auburn. No. 27. One Reaper (selfrake).

Seymour, Morgan d; Allen. No. 27 1/2 One Reaper (selfrake).


D. M. Osborne & Co., No. 28. One combined Mower and Reaper; time 55 min.; quality, 38.

E. F. Herrington, Valley Falls, N. Y. No. 29. One Eagle Combined Machine, same as entry No. 40, except that it now has a pinion changed; stubble long, bearings cool; time 62 min.; quality, 35.

Walter A. Wood, Hoosick Falls. No. 30. One Combined Mower and Reaper (hand-rake), field good, stubbles left high; time 46 min.; quality, 19.

Adriance, Platt & Co., Poughkeepsie. No. 31. One No. 1 Buckeye combined. Cutting bad; time 51 min., quality, 30. Driver unskilful.

Aultman, Miller & Co., Akron, O., No. 32. One Buckeye combined. Lot bad to cut, machine noisy and imperfectly geared; time 51 min.; quality, 38. Bearings cool.

Dodge & Stevenson Manufacturing Co., Auburn. No. 33. One Combined Machine (Dodge pat.) No. 2, wood frame.

C. Wheeler, jr., Auburn. No. 34. One Combined Machine (hand-rake). G. No. 35, One Combined (hand-rake) H. No. 34 (3. time 39 min., quality 35. No. 35 H. Field stony and bad; cutting even; time 45 min.; quality, 36.


D. M. Osborne & Co., Auburn, No. 36. One Combined Machine. Field rough, stubble even; time 46 min.; quality, 35.

Walter A. Wood, Hoosick Falls. No. 39. One Combined Machine (self-rake.) No. 40. One Combined Machine (selfrake.)

Aultman, Miller & Co., Akron, O. No. 41. One Buckeye combined (self-rake.) Good field, cutting good; time 65 min.; quality, 38. All the Buckeyes leave the grass in good condition for drying.

Williams, Wallace & Co., Syracuse. No. 42. One No. 1 Hubbard Machine (Syracuse self-rake) No. 43. One No. 2 Hubbard Machine (Syracuse self-rake). No. 43, work good; time 57 min.; quality, 38; bearings cool; good mower in all respects.

Seymour, Morgan & Allen, Brockport. No. 44. One New York Combined Machine (self-rake). Field good, cutting irregular; time 38; quality 35.

C. Wheeler, jr., Auburn. No. 45. One Combined Machine (self-raking attachment). No. 46. One Combined Machine (dropping attachment.)

Entry No. 45, I. Cayuga Chief, not closely cut; time 48 min.; quality 34, journal cool.

No. 46, Cayuga Chief, J. A bad field to cut; time 37 min.; quality 30, bearings hot.

W. H. Halladay, Auburn. No. 47. One Marsh's Combined Machine (self-rake). No. 47 1/2, Marsh's Valley Chief. No. 47. Field stony; cut uneven; time 46 min.; quality 28.


D. M. Osborne & Co., Auburn. No. 48. One Combined Machine. No. 49. One Combined. No. 50. One Combined.

American Agricultural Works, N. Y. No. 51, one Columbian Machine (hand and self-raker). Field bad, cutting very bad, time 57 minutes; quality, 26.

Dodge & Stevenson Manufacturing Co., Auburn. No. 52, one Dodge's patent combined Machine (self or hand-raker), wood frame, No. 1. No. 53, one Dodge's patent combined Machine (self or hand-rake), iron frame, No. 1.

No. 52, stubble not well cut, time 56 min., quality, 29. No. 53, field good, time 43 min., quality, 32.

The above machines unite the patents of the Buckeye and the Ohio mowers, having the gearing of the former and the movable shoe of the latter. Both well approved machines everywhere, and have done good work. It is strange that machines combining the best features of both patents should make so poor a record as these have done upon this field.

C. Wheeler, Jr., No. 54, one combined machine self or hand-rake, (K.) No. 55, the combined machine as dropper or hand-rake, (L.\

No. 54, Cayuga Chief, K. Cutting not good; time 54 min.; quality 30.

No. 55, Cayuga Chief, L. Field rocky; time 43 min., quality, 30.

Twelve of the Cayuga Chiefs were entered, all agreeing in general structure though not in minor details, they attracted much attention, but as a whole they did not appear well in the clover lots.


D. M. Osborne & Co., Auburn, No. 56, (one-horse mower.) Field good, well cut; time 64 minutes; quality, 35.

The work done by the machine of D. M. Osborne & Co., was done with tolerable uniformity, the average mark for quality of work being 34-36. The average time exclusive of the one-horse Machine was 51 minutes. The machines were all remarkable for the steadiness of their motion and freedom from noise.

R. L. Allen, N. Y. No. 57, one one-horse mower

C. Wheeler jr., Auburn, N. Y., No. 58, one one-horse Mower F. Cayuga Chief, cutting good; time 30 min.; quality, 34.

Pony Clipper (invented by R. Dutton.)

R. Dutton, Brooklyn, No. 59, one one-horse gleaner mower (invented by R. Dutton.)

_Trial of July 29th.--(Same Machines.)_

Twenty machines made a trial upon lots of very irregular surface, which had not been ploughed for many years; the general surface was level, but broken up with many deep hollows and having a thick growth of sedges and rushes. The prevailing herbage was red top, blue-grass, and fowl meadow; it was the hardest test for action in rough ground that could be found in the vicinity. The following is the result; the marks for quality of work were 1 to 40, the latter number indicating perfect work.

_Quality of_ _work._ _Seymour, Morgan & Allen, No. 44_39_ _The divider of this machine_ _pressed down the grass, some of_ _which was not cut off at the next_ _round._ _Cayuga Chief, D, No. 16_37_ _Cayuga Chief, A, No. 13_37_ _Dodge, Stevenson & Co., No. 52_37_ _(wood)_ _Dodge, Stevenson & Co., No. 53_37_ _(iron)_ _A spike projecting from the_ _ground was half severed by this_ _machine_ _D. M. Osborne & Co.,_37_ _C. C. Bradley & Son, No. 3_38_ _Williams, Wallace & Co., No. 43._38_ _Walter A. Wood, No. 8_40_ _E. F. Herrington, No. 4._37_ _Herrington's Eagle was remarkable_ _for its easy adaptation of its_ _bar to the steep sides of_ _hollows, in one case mowing with_ _it sloping downward at an angle_ _of 40 degrees._ _Rhode Island Clipper, No. 18_40_ _Adriance, Platt & Co., No. 10_40_ _Dow & Fowler, No. 9_31_ _Aultman, Miller & Co., No. 32_38_ _Wm. H. Halladay, No. 17_37_ _Some dry grass caught on the ends_ _of his fingers which prevented_ _him from cutting clean for about_ _20 rods._ _R. L. Allen, Pony Clipper, No. 57 36_ _James S. Marsh, No. 47 1/2_38_ _J. D. Wilber, No. 6_30_

"Those who had been present at the former great trials, held by the society were astonished at the general perfection which had been attained by the manufacturers of mowing-machines. Every machine, with two exceptions, did good work, which would be acceptable to any farmer, and the appearance of the whole meadow after it had been raked over, was as good as it could be, and vastly better than the average mowing of the best farmers in the State, notwithstanding the great difficulties which they had to encounter. At previous trials most of the machines would clog more or less, and some of them so frequently that they were of no practical value. At this trial, not a single instance of clogging was observed either in clover or fine grass.

"At previous trials, very few machines could stop in the grass and start without backing for a fresh start. At the present trial every machine stopped in the grass and started again without backing without any difficulty, and without leaving any perceptible ridge to mark the place where it occurred. We look upon these facts with pride and pleasure, as showing the great success which has attended the efforts of our mechanics to meet the requirements of the farmer, and we have good reason to believe that the experiments made at Auburn will lead to still greater advances in the path of progress.

"Four machines were allowed to work at once, marked stakes being driven down at their entrance; they cut entirely around the lot, passing through all the different kinds of bottom and of grass, and into all the gullies and hollows. Then four more succeeded them, and so on in groups of four, until all had gone round. Then each machine cut a double swath across the lot. After this the whole number of machines were put in motion at once, until both meadows were cut down. In this way the path of each machine could be traced without difficulty through its entire length, and the work of each, under very different circumstances, could be accurately compared."

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