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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

Shanks Caledonia(n)

A conundrum. I have recently laid hands on a 1909 Shanks advertisement which, alongside the Pony Mower, the Talisman & the Britisher, also advertises the "Caledonian". The picture clearly shows the same mower illustrated in MPO73, which I have always understood to be named "Caledonia" rather than "Caledonian", not only from MPO73, but also from discussions with other members.

Is this a misprinted name (like the story behind the naming of the Renault Espace) or are we prey to a verbal misrepresentation akin the use of "Automation" when referring to the Ransomes "Automaton" ?

Since I don't (yet) have an example of the Shanks mower in my collection I would welcome a definitive answer on this dilemma. Unless it gets even more complicated and the name changed during the 40 year production of the mower....


Thanks in advance,




Keith Wootton Sun, 13/11/2011


I've any number of copies from catalogues, including Shanks' own, from 1906 through to early 1930s which all refer to the mower as the "Caledonia". Similarly, in the photos I have here where the writing can be read all of the mowers have "Caledonia" cast into the handles.


brummy_joe Sun, 13/11/2011


thanks for that. I assumed that the most likely answer was that the advert was incorrect but it's nice to have some confirmation.



Clive1997 Sun, 13/11/2011

Hi Joe

Thanks for an excuse to thumb through some of my old ads! I have a 1906 Shanks ad with the heading "The Caledonian" and the drawing of the gear driven model where you can clearly see " The Caledonia" embossed on the large gear wheel casing!

On the subject of errors in ad's I have a 1925 Ransomes ad where the emphasis is on Motor Mowers with a photograph of a women with a PUSH mower probably a patent gear automaton with  the caption  Illustration of a 16 inch Motor Lawn Mower!


brummy_joe Fri, 18/11/2011


I have that one too, but only as an image rather than an original copy of the ad. I know we all complain about the inadequate product knowledge of salesmen & shop assistants today, but you've got to wonder how gaffs like this ever got into print!

The caption here reads " Illustration of 16 inch MOTOR LAWN MOWER suitable for use on medium sized gardens and small sports grounds". That poor woman.........



brummy_joe Sat, 19/11/2011

After 7 hours in the car today I now have a Caledonia in the collection. It has the code VM788 on both handles. Does anyone know if this is a part number or a serial number for the mower? If it's the latter, is it possible to date the mower form this?



brummy_joe Sat, 19/11/2011

Closer examination makes the number on the handles VM2788. This also appears to be etched rather than cast. This, and its presence on both handles, is leading me towards the serial number theory.

hdtrust Sat, 19/11/2011

it seems that the caledonia is the most common of all the shanks mowers in the collecting sphere of lawn mower collectors.the smallest being the 6in gear model which for some reason some of the club members call it the shanks small why?the smallest chain machine being a 8in model of which at this present time i think we have the only example as far as i know .would love to see a display of caledonias at milton keynes in 2012 how about it or a special display of shanks machines.over to the populus mike duck secretary.

brummy_joe Sun, 20/11/2011

Good idea. I prefer the idea of a Shanks display rather than just a Calendonia display.