Collection Storage Facility
Purchase in 1981
The Ferguson Thresher Company of Maxville, Ontario, produced this all-metal thresher — “The Marvel Grain Thrower” — sometime between 1941 and 1954. All-metal threshers were first produced in the early 1900s and gradually replaced wood-framed threshers. The company’s founder, James Ferguson, first began manufacturing agricultural implements and threshers in the 1870s. He built a new factory in 1928, which produced all-metal threshers until the company stopped producing threshers altogether in 1954.
Threshing machines separate grain from the harvested plant, which is reduced to straw and chaff. The first threshing machines were stationary: powered by hand or treadmill, they increased the amount of grain a farmer could separate in a day. Wheeled threshing machines began to replace stationary threshers in the 1860s and further mechanized grain harvesting. Threshers were initially built of wood and powered by horse-powered windlasses; they were later built of steel and powered by steam traction engines and gas tractors. Threshers were in turn replaced through the twentieth century by combine harvesters, which merged harvesting and threshing operations in one machine.
The Ferguson “The Marvel Grain Thrower” represents the shift in the early twentieth century to all-metal construction, and demonstrates the overlap of technologies as threshers remained in production while combine harvesters were becoming more popular.