MACHINES OF PLENTY by Stewart Holbrook


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Jerome I. Case, known as the Threshing Machine King, was one of the wizards of American farm machinery who in the mid-1800's brought the Industrial Revolution to mid-western agriculture. Holbrook, adept at characterizing our industrial facets of history, supplies an anecdotal paean to Case, and a circumstantial (too circumstantial) account of Case's heirs and the rube goldbergian equipment they have perfected. There's everything from a corn harvester which picks and gathers while it chops and scatters the stalk material for mulch to a ""sliced-hay pickup and baler"" and an ""all-purpose combine which cuts and threshes"" everything in reach. Case was versatile, hard-working, and practicable as the machines he invented. He had unbending pride in his craftsmanship and travelled hundreds of miles to tinker the ""bugs"" out of a recalcitrant machine. When he failed he is said at one time to have set the machine afire. He was honest, taciturn, devoid of everything but commercial imagination. He despised display, indulging only in breeding harness racing horses. He combined the instincts of a farmer and the canniness of a Yankee businessman. With the prolonged sequel on the outgrowths of the original company, this rapidly loses interest, though possibly 12 Case himself had written the book he would have compounded the interest. A rather specialized market-this -- for agricultural industrialists chiefly.

Pub Date: July 12th, 1955
Publisher: Macmillan