Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Planter Wires

DAAHA continues to grow and expand the topics within its collection. Recent additions include planter wires. Each of the samples in DAAHA's collection are from Illinois inventors.

Planter wires, also known as check-line or check-row planter, were stretched across fields to aide in planting straight rows for a variety of crops. Knots on the wire placed at regular intervals tripped seed drop mechanisms on early horse-drawn planters. The first patent for planter wire was issued in 1857. They were in use until the 1950s when tractor pulled planters made the use of the wires obsolete. More than 200 patents were issued for planter wire styles between 1857 and 1939. Most of the manufacturers of check-row planters that used check-lines were located in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Ohio, but the greatest number of inventors were located in Illinois. The Haworths of Decatur, IL became dominant in the planter wire industry and were involved in various patents from 1861 through 1901.

Planter wires differed in the types of line used as well as the particular knots. Lines were made from cord, rope, or chain and could be single or multiple wires. Lines were continuous or chain like.

Early patents were simple knots tied in cord or rope. Later patent improvements added a metal disc on each side of the knot to minimize wear and breaking of the cord at the knot.

  The "Metal Button" planter wire pictured above was patented September 19, 1871 by Lysander L. Haworth of Decatur, IL.

"Planter Wire Collector's Guide" by Jim Goedert and Larry Greer. 2000.
"Planter Wire: A Patent History and Collector's Catalog" by Jim Goedert and Larry Greer. 1998.

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