Old threshing machines are the timeless treasures of the agricultural sector, and sighting these antique gems is quite rare nowadays.
This is why the Drostdy Museum in Swellendam, Western Cape could not believe their luck when a 90-year-old 22-inch x 38-inch McCormick-Deering threshing machine landed at their front door.
Depending on what angle you are looking at it, the old “soul” could easily look like something a grade 2 student made in art class. But this olden-day piece of mechanisation is something special.
Rare find for Swellendam
Earlier this month, the Drostdy Museum became the new home of this very special artefact. Those who were lucky enough to witness the procession in Voortrekker Street were not only treated to the old threshing machine, but also that it was escorted by a new harvester.
“When the museum was contacted by Eniel Botha from SSK about whether the museum will be interested in an old threshing machine, we never thought we would come upon such a rare find,” the museum wrote in a post on Facebook.
Seeing the two together was also a very special touch from SSK, however, the good news did not stop there.
“SSK also offered to load and transport it for the museum to its new location on the Trades Yard – at their expense and with some help from SOILL. Transporting an old threshing machine like this McCormik-Deering was no easy or low-cost task, and without this offer, the museum would not have been able to accept the donation.”
As far as the museum is concerned, to them, it felt as if it was meant to be. At the museum, things were happening just as fast as they had little time to get the space ready.
“Including taking out fence poles, mowing, cutting and clearing the space. All in time to have the bakkie back and have a wash before going down to SSK.”
A dream come true
There is also another reason why the museum is excited about having it as part of its collection. These machines that have played such a big role in the history of the mechanisation of Mzansi’s agricultural legacy, tend to get lost as scrap metal.
“Too young to be an antique, too old to be functional and too big to be handled. We are running the risk of losing an integral part of our community’s history, especially Swellendam where agriculture lays at the heart of our economy and thus the history,” the museum said.
While the place of origin of this particular machine is still uncertain, the McCormick company has a long and compelled history. The name McCormick-Deering was, however, only used from 1923 to 1949.
The IHC logo (International Harvester Co) was established in 1902 after the merger of five large companies, while Deering and McCormik were sold separately with machines that differ slightly from each other, though both used the IHC loo.
“This logo was even used after 1923 when McCormik-Deering was the result of a merger of two machines into one. This logo is still available on the Drostdy Museum’s new acquisition,” the museum pointed out.
SSK to the rescue
“Truth be told, museums are nervous to extend their collections to incorporate the next generation of artefacts. We are all understaffed and under-financed, and the only chance these ‘parts’ of our history have, is when, like with this McCormik-Deering, we get support from the local community.”
This is exactly what happened with SSK, and the assistance from SOILL, as well as the local traffic department. “This became a dream come true. A big thanks to these role players, we are deeply grateful and content.”
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