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Collection, Preservation and Display of Old Lawn Mowers

MP037: Greens Multum In Parvo

Multum In Parvo from a Green's catalogue c1910. This version has gears on one side and all-enclosing cover.

Multum In Parvo is one of the strangest names ever given to a lawn mower. It means "much from little" and comes from the ancient Latin language. Latin was still widely used in written documents by the legal, academic, medical and ecclesiastical professions during the Victorian era (indeed it is still used for some documents). The name may have been chosen to hint that the mower was well-bred and ideal for the sort of owner who was educated to understand the meaning of the name. We shall probably never know the truth.

In fact, Green's had already used a Latin name for its earlier Silens Messor model. When the Multum In Parvo was introduced in the 1880s (no one is sure of the exact date) it was intended as a smaller version of the Silens Messor. It was produced in 6", 7", 8", 10", 12", 14" and 16" cutting widths. Prices in 1910, for example, ranged from £1-10-0 to £5-10-0, including the wooden-sided grass box. Generally, examples that have survived tend to be the 6", 8" or 10" models while Silens Messors can be found at sizes up to 24" (and wider if including the pony and horse mowers of a very similar design).

Green's offered the Multum In Parvo with gear and chain drive but most of the surviving examples are gear driven. Interestingly, most Silens Messors are chain drive even though they too were offered with both transmissions.

The Multum In Parvo was a great success and many thousands were sold. Production continued into the 1920s but by the end of that decade the company had introduced new models.

The design of the Multum In Parvo changed over the years. Some models had all of the gear wheels on one side while others had a gear on each side (one on the rear roller, one on the cutting cylinder) connected by a drive shaft running across the chassis to transfer power from one to the other. Some had gear covers and others did not. These changes make the Multum In Parvo very popular with collectors because of the variety that can be found.

A number of Multum In Parvo mowers have survived but far fewer than contemporary machines of similar design from the leading manufacturers such as the Ransomes Automaton (in various guises), the Shanks Caledonia and of course Green's own Silens Messor.

Late version of the Multum In Parvo with chain drive and cast iron handles with a flatter profile than the more common "rounded" casting.