What brand instantly comes to mind when thinking of U.S. Agriculture? For many, the answer is John Deere.

John Deere’s history began in 1837 in Grand Detour, Illinois, when he created a highly polished steel moldboard that allowed farmers to cut clean furrows in rocky soil. From there, the company’s empire began. John Deer received his first patent in 1864andhadam

On June 29, 1875, Gilpin Moore, head of the iron works at John Deere, developed a plow for the company known as the “Gilpin Sulky-Plow.” From the time of his hiring until he retired in 1890, Moore was issued 31 patents in his name, along with four others jointly held with John Deere. Few of these were for incremental improvements to existing products— most were for new implements that, when produced, added significantly to Deere’s bottom line.de

The Sulky-Plow (U.S. Patent No. 164,929) allowed for farmers to get off their feet and in a seat; it was John Deere’s most successful product in the 19th century. The patent was granted on June 29th, 1875 to Moore. While other plows were on the market at the time, Deere’s two-wheel Sulky-Plow was the most popular among farmers. Horses commonly pulled the Sulky-Plow and the more blades that were attached, the faster a field could be plowed.

In 1878, The Sulky-Plow defeated 50 other plows in a field trial at the Paris Universal Exposition. Due to the plows performance at the exposition, unit sales the following year rose from 5,198 to reach a height of 7,824 in 1883. 1892 marked the first successful testing of a gasoline-powered tractor whose infrastructure was similarly designed to that of a Sulky-Plow. Over time, advancements in technology and innovative ideas started to move the farm equipment industry into the future with support from John Deere®.

Deere & Company Gilpin Sulky Plow Illustration / John Deere Sulky Plow Patent
Deere & Company Gilpin Sulky Plow Illustration

Perhaps the best representation that we have today of The “Gilpin Sulky Plow” can be seen in a famous painting of Old John Deere himself, as he watches a young man on a Sulky-Plow turning a perfect furrow behind three spirited steeds.

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Sources: USDA, Economic Research Service using data from USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2012 Census of Agriculture

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