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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Samuelson by Paul Harvey New Grassbox

Just picked up the Grassbox and was really happy to read the peace by Paul Harvey,well done to say you've managed to do it by searching from your computer in lock down! It just goes to show what has been down loaded on the net but beware its not always gospel! There is no replacement to finding out from original sources.

The revered Budding Improved at Milton Keynes Museum was actually found on a scrap heap at a farm near Rugby not Banbury, as you have not got the full list of licensees of the Budding Machine from Ferrabee,you are missing at least 3.One of them is Bernhards,Rugby,the descendents are still in business selling cylinder grinders today.One of our past Chairman Peter Hampton worked for them.

The picture of I take it your machine,has been incorrectly dated! The correct dating is of the Improved Senior Lawn mower as can be clearly seen on the opersite page.There is a fundamental difference.Look at your photo closely,the handle stretchers and side frame is cast in 2 peices,that's the Improved,if it was cast as one,then it would be the Senior.

Although Pauls readings I have enjoyed so still well done,one thing should be added about Bernhard Samuelson because of his anthropic nature, we should all be thankful to him, as his greatest gift was to be one of our forefathers who helped to form our present education system.



Mowing Wurzel Fri, 12/02/2021
Dear Andrew, Thank you for the lovely feedback on my article,
I had expected (been anticipating)  you to give critique on it!

Please see my response and clarification of the facts / Evidence for my thesis:


1. Thank you for correcting me that the  Milton Keynes Museum Mower was found at Rugby, not Banbury, I only added this by word of mouth. "The Mower was found near Banbury," - Laterally speaking the M.K. "Improved" is certainly a subject of great conjecture and as of Budding Improved design, could have been cast by any of the various manufacturers.


2. I am aware of the other early Budding Licensed Patentees,(and retailers) I was only stating which manufacturers exhibited at the first 1851 Exhibition.

As space was limited In Grassbox, the article was chopped down a lot to fit in,  plus I did not want to side-track, although though it was worth mentioning the proximity to Shanks & Greens  stands in "The Pavilion" of 1851, as not aware this had been brought to light in any publication previously. 

I also thought it worth mentioning that Ransomes & Sims (as called at that time)  did not produce a mower of their own design till 1861 ( A mower still on Improved designs and remarkably similar to the venerable Mower at Milton Keynes can be seen in The Gardeners Chronicle of 1861! ) 


3. “The Picture (of our 12") Incorrectly dated; - I have not dated the picture,  nor speculated on its exact age.  I would date our rusty old 12" to Circa. 1880-1896 as it has the wrought iron grass box bracket (introduced in the late 1870’s)  And the towing eye protrusion, As stated in the article.

The 12” (or is it 10"?)  "Senior" at Banbury Museum is identical to ours, albeit it doesn't have  the towing rope protrusion at the front (as in the 1880’s brochures)  

4. Fundamental Difference in the handles: - “ I have checked the original literature and the detachable handles were introduced on the original Silent Edge Clipper of 1868 (Spring 1869 introduction) As I mentioned at the end of the article, how manufactures use old print blocks and claim something is new, when introduced several years earlier.

Nevertheless; the 1869 print shows along with contemporary magazine articles prove the detectable handles from 1869!


SILENT EDGE CLIPPER >  SENIOR  NAME METAMORPHOSIS:  I have researched and checked the chronology: -

Silent Edge Clipper Patented May 1868- Introduced Spring 1869,  Iron Grass-box band introduced C.1877, Called Senior at least by 1879 ( I have found an article in Australian Newspaper article using the word "Senior" ) by 1888 - Looking like our one – Produced till late 19th century. - Do you have a date for S & Co. Finishing Mower production?



Naturally the H&D Trust  have the best collection of surviving S & Co. Machines, a joy to see and admire!

The Pre-1868 Silent 12” you have, plus  the three 1869-c.1880 Silent Edge clippers.(Not to mention the two Favorite's!  (One With Ltd cast on the handlebars and one without!)

Then there comes the Banbury Museum one C.1880,  no rope band  protrusion.

Finally  our  rusty 12" (with the rope protrusion) C.1880-Production ended.

Design modifications from inception in 1869 to end of production being only by the grass box band and grass box design and construction.  


6. The only “Secondary Resource information” I had taken as fact was borrowed from The Banbury Historical society in saying the Business was finally wound up in 1933, obviously I did not know a company continued making cylinder grinders (A subject for further investigation!)


7. Only One major mistake I did notice myself when reading the article this evening was, I wrote the Favorite was introduced in 1878, when it was actually in production in 1877!  (And displayed at Paris and USA in 1878!)

When you first saw Our 12" S & Co. in 2015  I must confess, I had only seen the 1869 prints and thought our machine was close to that date, you quite correctly pointed out to me that it was nearer to the 1880's  as is proved in contemporary literature you were naturally correct!

I cannot say it was all researched from home, I have had a lot of help with original source material, most kindly given by Christopher P.  & Clive  G. without who's benevolence, the article would not have been possible.

hdtrust Sat, 13/02/2021

Dear Paul,

As said I enjoyed your piece,it is not meant to criticise for sake but rather to educate for us all,obviously when your wittings are cut , there can be a melting down of wealth,which always seems to be the case when articles go to print (so you are not alone there).

On your reply paragraph No1 Re The Budding Milton Keynes Museum,over the years we all have looked at that one,I'm afraid the jury may always be out,although we can tie it down to a period and like I say a Licensee,but allas with out a bill of sale well it may always lie in the lap of the God's!

However the prognoses on Keith's is better, obviously we know the Auction House to which Keith purchased,plus the vendor (an antique Dealer) we also know who he bought it off,which was Penrose Green,Past Chairman of Green's.We even have a picture of it,in Green's show rooms in the 1930's,but again then we open a great can of worms! Who made it? Green's never were Licensees of Ferrabee's

This is also where all the bad blood came from within the early makers of lawn mowers.

Your paragraph 2,Ransomes and Simms Improved 1861.This machine was never patented,there is an example of it,which is in the Lawn Tennis Museum in Wimbledon,it was donated by Ransomes some years ago.

From 1858 when Ferrabee improved the original patent,Ransomes ceased to be a licensee,but instead became the main dealership for Shanks and Greens lawn mowers from their Burry St Edmonds show rooms until 1860.

Paragraph 6,Banbury History Society. Yes been there done it,but allas many years ago,as of then they did not appear to have much insight to information on Samuelson.

The demise of Samuelson actually should be applied through many years, and not just one aspect but mainly from instances abroad as Samuelson exports were totally global,the crumbling in Russia's revolution with the non payments of equipment paid a heavy blow,there was also much trouble in France in the late 1850's.Ransomes new there were problems with the French Government,so they sold their warehouses to Samuelsons,who were left holding the baby so to speak,when the French Government took them over!

Perhaps as a caveat here.Be wary when dealing with the Europeans,the year may be different but the people never change!

Which ever business we have looked at when researching,looking at Trade write ups or year brochures you are absolutely on the ball which way you are perceiving the information but allas,that has to be remembered,its their advertisement,that's what they would have wanted you to take in,but then we have the actual articles which they sold,which is I'm afraid a totally different ball game!

This is where the fun always lies and probably the basis why we have such a good club,where we constantly educate each other




olcadmin Sun, 14/02/2021

A really good article which I am sure will add to our knowledge of an important early manufacturer of mowers. As always the discussions should lead to clarifications and new ideas that add to the original when appropriate.

The mower at MKM is a good example. I had originally been told that it came from a village "near Rugby" but when I found out more some years later I realised the village was actually nearer to Banbury. This is where the idea that it was made by Samuelsons has come from. However, as hinted at in the article and comments, there are no names or words on the castings to suggest any manufacturer at all. This is perhaps unusual, although not unique, given that almost all mowers from that period have names on their castings. We shall probably never know with certainty who made it.


I would also recommend a trip to Banbury Museum, once restrictions allow. It's in a really nice setting in the middle of town right next to the Oxford Canal. There is a small section on Samuelson which includes one of their mowers (presumably the only one the museum holds) but with information about more of their products. 

Lee Smallwood Sun, 14/02/2021

There is no doubt that these belong in museums but my goodness, I would love one. 

Mowing Wurzel Sun, 14/02/2021

Dear Friends,

The usefulness of a Forum to discuss historical issues in this and other cases proves most beneficial.

Thank you, Andrew, for the extra lateral information and providing further interesting information, very informative and interesting.

Thank you, Keith, for writing also on the clarification on the discovery of the “M.K. Improved" As said previously, my Article "The Samuelson Story” was a concise account of the mowers of Samuelson; with that shadowy period of the 1850's.

Another spanner in the works; has anybody ever seen Boyd's apparatus fitted to an "Improved?"   certainly the MK machine has holes in the side frames where the box fitted, but would there have been holes of flanges to mount Boyd's Brush?

You are both Gods and founding fathers of Lawnmower  preservation, historical research  and promotion!  ( And were doing so when I was in liquid form!)

The M.K. Mower whoever produced it is a rare survivor and a good example of what Samuelson & Co were producing from 1854 - c.1860.  (We all would like it in our shed!   { Some would no doubt have it in their Living room?!} )

Whilst researching I came across many Agricultural Foundry’s listed as producing  (more like retailing) "Buddings Patent” and "Improved" machines.

As you say, we will never know who made the M.K. one. (Has anybody investigated the casting numbers on the roller spokes, probably just meaningless foundry codes of significance lost in time?)

Whilst comparing notes for the preliminary draft; Christopher P. made me aware of the "Wimbledon Improved Mower” which I did not know about till recently; again an "Improved" design, albeit with a wrought iron rope pull bracket (Like R & S's Automation of a few years later) rather than the wrought iron rigid pull T Handle. (of the M.K.)   (See Gardeners Chronicle 1861-2 for Ransomes "Improved"  print)

I like to poke fun at Ransomes' after reading a lot of advertising  literature they produced in the late 19th and early 20th century,  "We were the first the produce the Lawnmower!"     Important early manufacturers seem forgotten.

Going on another sidetrack; back to the Budding's Patent Licenses from 1832, I am curious why the words  "Ransomes being the first Wholesaler for Budding's Mowers" is used, when "Manufacturer" would be more appropriate if they cast them?

As Andrew mentions about Green's being a supplier for Ransomes' is very interesting and informative, with Green's in 1856 selling "Mowers of the old design at half price!"   As you mention Green's were never Budding's Patent Licsenses, but from this "advertisement"  we may deduce they had some supply or manufacture role before their own own Mowers were introduced in Late 1855 / early 1856.

Re: Problems with the Europeans - a highly contentious issue which would inflame passions 100 times manifold than on this discourse!

Aside from creating an accurate history, the last year has ruined mine and no doubt many people’s mental health with events unfolding.

The mower research interest has kept me busy in the winter months. I have been strictly adhering to rules necessary for everybody’s well being and hope we can all get through to enjoying life again and going on holiday and to Rallies. (or even simple family days out!)   We haven't all been out for recreation since March the 8th last year!

Thank you again Andrew for the additional information......with your 50 years of doing research.

Dear Friends, hope we all meet again soon!  (M.K. & Malvern!)

Mowing Wurzel Sun, 14/02/2021

THE H & D TRUSTS   10"  IMPROVED LAWN MOWING MACHINE   -   Beautifully restored. 

Note fixed handles - Detectable handles were introduced with the Silent Edge Clipper Model patented 1868- and introduced  Spring of 1869.


hdtrust Mon, 15/02/2021

Dear Paul,

After reading your reply,there is one paragraph with regard to the Budding mower and Ransomes with regards to manufacture.

I happen to have an unpublished work of early life at Ransomes by George Biddle who was the first Manager of Ransomes Lawn Mower division.It states that Ransomes in the winter months fitted the castings of The Budding Mowers,nowhere does it talk about making the castings,Perhaps another shed of light is brought up in an early census where Ferrabee is employing more employees than Ransomes.

I also hold allot of family papers of the Ferrabee's,also of H A Randall who's wife was a distant relation of the Ferrabee's,H A Randall wrote a thesis called Mid Gloucester Engineers and Inventors for The Newcomen Society in 1965-66.

I also hold many internal letters of Mr Daniels,the first curator of Stroud Museum,along with personnel letters from Mr Lionel Waldron,Mr Daniels replacement,All these artefacts cover allot of the missing information on the true Budding story.

However at the moment my own research is still on going,before the question is asked why these papers are not in the public demain.The answer is quite honest and simple,they are as stated family papers.Mr Lionel Waldron just happens to be my cousin.




hdtrust Mon, 15/02/2021

Hi Keith

I finally finished at 3pm yesterday and bloody cold!

Yes that venerable Budding Improved at Milton Keynes. It has been suggested now for many years that most implements, which were made before the Great Exhibition of 1851,do not as a rule carry names,as advertisement in that way probably was not thought about,now we know that this machine cannot be earlier than 1858, as being where the front roller is,but if produced by a small licensee then the same rules could apply as we are talking less than a ten year period.Nothing like putting a spanner in the works,as long as its not Buddings!

Kind regards


Mowing Wurzel Wed, 17/02/2021


As mentioned earlier, the detachable handles introduced with the 1868 Patent Edge-Clipping Silent (gearing) Mower.

All Samuelson Edge Clipping & Senior Models had detachable handles.