MP081: Jestimah

Jestimah hand mower, 1930s.

The Jestimah was a sidewheel mower made in the 1930s. It was a conventional design for the period with cast iron side frame and large diameter cast iron side wheels (usually referred to as the "high wheel" type). The cutting cylinder has steel blades riveted on to the frame or spider. Versions in 8" and 10" cutting width are known to have been made.

In addition to the name the cast iron sidewheels have "Foreign" on them. It is highly likely that the mower was in fact made in Germany by Brill. Except for the names the Jestimah and Brill Cutwell models are virtually identical, including the same casting numbers on the corresponding components of each machine.

Although Brill was well established by the 1930s, and is still manufacturing mowers, at the time it was difficult for German companies to sell their products in the UK. This was because many customers remembered the conflict of the First World War or were concerned with the rise of fascism. Despite this resistance Brill was able to sell its mowers in the UK by giving them neutral names and marking products as "foreign" rather than "German".  Many of these machines were sold by independent retailers or through mail order catalogues. For this reason, collectors often refer to mowers made by one company for sale under a different name as "catalogue" machines.

One of the features of the Jestimah and Brill Cutwell is the use of an iron bracket to connect the wooden handle stem with the cross piece. Although this was occasionally seen on British sidewheel mowers (which normally had a tenon and mortice joint) it was much more common on machines made in Germany and the USA.

Another distinguishing feature of many mowers made outside the UK is the use of unusual colours. British mowers were generally red and green, with a few exceptions, but colours such as blue, yellow, silver and gold were much more common on overseas machines.

Jestimah hand mower in background is identical, except for the name, to the Brill mower in the foreground.

Although the Brill mower is reasonably common the Jestimah is much less so. A few examples are known to be in the collections of enthusiasts.