The Lawrence H. Skromme Agricultural Machinery Literature Collection

Oct 13, 2010

The Special Collections Department recently received a new collection of agricultural machinery product literature, the Lawrence H. Skromme Agricultural Machinery Literature Collection (RS 21/7/227). The collection contains catalogs, advertisement cards, price lists, and other ephemera relating to agricultural implements and machinery. The collection does not contain instruction manuals for the implements. The earliest item in the collection is from 1838 and the latest from 1999, although the bulk of the collection is from the latter part of the 19th through the early 20th century. The collection is a great addition to our other agricultural collections and rare books.

The product catalogs often contain descriptions of the company and its implements, how they can be used, and sometimes brief histories of the machinery. In addition to information on a particular implement, the product literature can be used for a variety of research purposes. For instance, the literature contains items made for a variety of audiences. A few of the catalogs were probably for immigrants, several in German and Norwegian. One of the booklets in the collection is the "The Oliver Alphabet" from 1889. The booklet contains lovely decorated letters and illustrations. Each alphabet's page describes and promotes an aspect of Oliver Chilled Plow Works, and the text is often in verse. Although at first glance one may assume the booklet was made for children, the first page points out that it is intended for both adults and children: "...Children oft speak unaware / Wise things they scarcely comprehend / And you may find a goodly share / Of wisdom here my worthy friend." The cover art of each company's product catalogs change over time, emphasizing different aspects of the agricultural implements sold and the wants and needs of the company's customers.

The product literature collection was compiled by ISU alum, Lawrence Skromme. Skromme graduated with a B.S. (1937) in agricultural engineering from Iowa State College (now University). After receiving his degree, Skromme began his long and productive career in the agricultural implement manufacturing industry. During his career, Skromme worked as an engineer at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Harry Ferguson Inc., Sperry-New Holland and, finally, New Holland.

The collection's finding aid is available at: http://www.lib.iastate.edu/arch/rgrp/21-7-227.pdf. A more detailed description of the collection can also be found here: http://isuspecialcollections.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/new-collection-agricultural-machinery-product-literature/

Adriance and Buckeye Harvesting Machinery catalog cover, 1896
Adriance and Buckeye Harvesting Machinery catalog cover, 1896

Buckeye Mower and Reaper catalog, 1874
Buckeye Mower and Reaper catalog, 1874

Austen, Tomlinson & Webster Manufacturing Company's advertisement card for their Jackson Wagons, undated
Austen, Tomlinson & Webster Manufacturing Company's advertisement card for their Jackson Wagons, undated

Austen, Tomlinson & Webster Manufacturing Company's advertisement card for their Jackson Wagons, undated

The Oliver Alphabet, 1889
The Oliver Alphabet, 1889