McCormick ReaperThis paper describes the restoration of a 1931 replica of the original 1831 McCormick reaper. The replica was made by the International Harvester Company as a part of the 1931 celebration of the centenary of the invention of the reaper.

The replicas were constructed of the same materials as the original and the restoration described in this paper followed the same process using similar materials and techniques. The restoration is described in detail accompanied by color photographs of each step in the project. Materials (mostly white oak), processes, assembly, and finishing are described for each part and subassembly.

The history of the invention and development of the McCormick reaper is not a part of this paper; several complete biographies of Cyrus McCormick adequately cover the topic. However, the background of the centennial replica reaper is covered, as is the story of the acquisition of this particular reaper replica.

As an item of interest related to the reaper replicas, a comparison is made between the original 1834 McCormick reaper patent and the 1931 replicas, wherein notable differences are discussed as well as are the differences between the 1931 replicas and the replica made for the 1930 International Harvester Company film "The Romance of the Reaper."

The restored reaper replica described in this paper was given to Texas A&M in the 1930s by a branch office of the International Harvester Company. A representative of Texas A&M gave the reaper to Albert Meier of Stonewall, Texas, in the late 1990s, and he in turn gave it to the author of this paper in 2002. The reaper was part of Virginia's exhibit at the Southeastern Agricultural Expo in Moultrie, Georgia, in October, 2007. Following that, it became part of the permanent collection at the Frontier Culture Museum at Staunton, Virginia. The reaper is on exhibit at the museum and is also used during the harvest season to demonstrate how grain was harvested during the 1800s. To view a slideshow of the Frontier Culture Museum, please click on Frontier Culture Museum.

The paper is available from the author at a nominal charge to cover the cost of printing (32 pages, stapled, printed on 24 lb. stock)

Harold K. Sohner
772 Luckenbach Road
Fredericksburg, TX 78624

Additional information about Cyrus McCormick, the invention of the reaper, and the centennial of the invention is available in an article by Lee Grady in the Spring, 2001, issue of the The Wisconsin Magazine of History. To and search under the title of the article: "McCormick's Reaper at 100."