Mann’s Reaping Machine, c. 1830


Early Agricultural Machinery 1700-1920

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This prototype came from Mr Mann of Holm Abbey, Cumbria in about 1830. It had a triangular chassis with a twelve-sided cutter geared to one of the three land wheels. The corn was gathered, held to the cutters by revolving rakes then stripped from the rakes and laid in a swath beside the machine. Unfortunately it only worked on flat ground. This was one of many prototypes created in the early part of the nineteenth century: the first patent was taken by Joseph Boyce of London in 1800. In 1805 James Plunknett of Deptford employed a sharpened circular plate with notched edges which revolved horizontally and was adjusted for cutting height. Gladstone’s of Kirkcudbright elaborated on this concept. James Smith of Deanston gained favourable reports for his machine. It again had a circular cutter that was attached to the base of a vertical drum that turned on its axis. When pushed by horses these turned by a shaft and gears from the ground wheels. The corn fell against the drum and was deposited beside the machine. It was Patrick Bell, a minister in Angus, who invented the first harvester as we would know it today in 1828 but failed to patent it. His machine had a cutter bar with sails that pulled the crop to the cut. By 1834 Cyrus McCormick in the US (the founder of International Harvester) had patented a similar machine with a vibrating cutter. [N.B. Mr Mann’s Reaper should not be confused with the harvester invented by Henry F. Mann in the USA in 1849].

Additional information

Weight 0.0118 kg
Dimensions 5 × 24.5 cm