In the eighteenth century no topic was given greater emphasis, among those who interested themselves in technological improvements, than agriculture. This was as true of the American Philosophical Society as of its European predecessors, but in 1785 a society for the promotion of agriculture was established in Philadelphia, with a cabinet of its own, and the period of the extensive involvement of the American Philosophical Society in agriculture proved to be short-lived.
Made and presented by John Jones of Indian River. Wooden model of white pine and mahogany with steel cutter, 8" X 2" X 4 1/2". Unmarked. Received in 1771.
Its general appearance is that of the horse-drawn plow of the period. A large wheel which rolls along the ground has an integral pulley through which it drives a vertical shaft having a four-bladed cutter at its lower end.
A reaper with immovable cutters was used in Roman Gaul. Its modern history is supposed to have begun with Capel Lofft of England, who submitted a plan for a machine in 1785, in response to the offer of a premium by the Royal Society of Arts five years earlier. Its description has not survived. Mowing machines were patented from 1803, having as a very common feature circular cutters similar to those in the present specimen.21 Jones' machine, "for working a number of scythes with a horse," as it is called in the Curator's Donation Book, appears to have been overlooked by historians of this subject, as it antedates by fourteen years even the shadowy machine of Lofft. It would seem that this specimen is the earliest design for a mowing machine of which we have record.
John Jones of Indian River is not to be confused with the more famous physician who was associated with King's College and the____________________