293: 1890 WOODEN WAGON BY HUNT, HELMS, FERRIS & CO.
This is a beautiful and well constructed WOODEN WAGON from the period of around 1890 to 1902. The wagon box itself is all wood and the box by itself measures 36" by 16". There are hard rubber wheels that are a hard and solid rubber. These rubber wheels are mounted onto a metal rim and then the rim is supported by wooden spokes - amazing. Totally amazing construction. The total length of the wagon from the back of the wagon to the front handle is 70". Notice, it has a wooden and metal handle. There are metal supports under the wagon - very solid. We have included pictures of the underside of the wagon for your preview. There is a part on the front of the wagon that has worn thin over the years because the handle rubs up against the front part of the wood sides. But, that simply adds to the character of the wood wagon. Most people would not consider that a defect on this primitive wood wagon, but we did want to point out that characteristic. The wagon has been used throughout the years - and yet - it remains fully functional and in very good condition for being a primitive wooden wagon. On the sides of the wagon there was at one time some decals and you can still see the outline of these decals and it has the word CANNONBALL on both sides of the wagon. Thus, we assume this wooden wagon was called THE WOODEN CANNONBALL WAGON. But, the most impressive marking on this wagon is the marking on the very back side panel where it says, HUNT, HELM, FERRIS & CO. HARVARD, ILLINOIS. The history of this company is interesting and impressive. In 1883, Henry L. Ferris invented and patented a hay carrier while working at his dairy, the Cold Spring Creamery, near Alden, Illinois. As news of the carrier spread through the farming community, a number of men visited Ferris with the thought of forming a business venture. Charles E. Hunt, associated with his father-in-law, Nathan B. Helm, in a hardware store in Harvard, Illinois, suggested that Ferris set up shop in the basement of their Hardware Store - so that Ferris could continue the manufacturing of the carrier. In addition, Hunt suggested that he and Helm would sell the merchandise from the sales floor above. Ferris agreed and the Hunt, Helm, Ferris and Company business began. As Ferris’ engineering skills and inventiveness progressed, the company grew and prospered. Eventually, Ferris sold his dairy to the Gatman Brothers and moved his family to Harvard, Illinois in 1887. In 1888 the company built a new and larger manufacturing facility on the south side of Front Street. Continued prosperity meant continued growth; they built additional buildings, and by 1898 the Company constructed their first three story building. Product innovation allowed the partners to buy out the Church Hay Tool Company of Harvard, Illinois prior to the turn of the century. Finally, Hunt, Helm and Ferris decided to incorporate in 1902. Through the years, the company manufactured more than 50 products and acquired over 250 patents on equipment designed to streamline farm work. Ferris invented a windmill regulator, land roller, spring tooth cultivator, a barbed wire stretcher, fence posts, milk house equipment, barn hardware, automatic gutter cleaners and manure spreaders, silo unloaders, and a cattle feeder. Along the recreational 1ine, Hunt, Helm, and Ferris manufactured a two-wheel bicycle called the “Ferris Wheel”, steel coaster sleds, coaster wagons, a cannonball wooden wagon and roller skates. Since farmers referred to the company’s merchandise as the “Star” line of farmstead equipment, Hunt, Helm and Ferris renamed the corporation Starline in 1931. This preceded a long line of alterations for the company. In 1943, Starline purchased the Federal Malleable Company of Wisconsin. Sixteen years later (1959), they sold Federal Malleable to facilitate purchasing 50% interest in the Howard Rotavator Company, an American branch of the British farm machinery manufacturer, Rotary Hoes. Starline also acquired half interest in the Hawk Bilt Company of Iowa in 1961; a company built around the invention and manufacturer of a patented tank-type manure spreader. In 1969, Starline merged with Chromalloy American Corporation. Rotary Hoes declined to be part of the transaction and bought back Starline’s half interest in their American company. Hawk Bilt Company agreed to the merger. Today, Starline is part of the Farm Systems Division of Chromalloy Farm and Industrial Equipment Company headquartered in Harvard, Illinois. This cannonball wooden wagon we date from 1890 to 1902 - beause on the back of the wagon it says HUNT, HELM, FERRIS & CO. HARVARD, ILLINOIS. We know that it was built after Ferris moved the Harvard. And, the company incorporated in 1902 and if it has been made after that time, the word INC. would have been on the wagon, because companies that were Incorporated wanted everyone to know they were an official Corporation. The fact that the company used the initials CO. meant it was made prior to 1902. Simply a wonderful wooden wagon with a great history.