Now CropLife IRON never assumed it was the first magazine to focus on ag equipment, but no one within our regular group of readers could give us any details on a publication called Farm Mechanics. About the only clues to its existence came from a few stray issues being offered on eBay for $30 to $50 per copy.
Doing a little digging, here’s what we were able to find out about Farm Mechanics magazine. Started in the early 1900s, the publication was printed by the Farm Mechanics Co., based in Chicago. The owners of this company were the Radford family, with William A. Radford serving as president; William A. Radford, Jr., as vice president/editor; and R.D. Radford as secretary/tresurer/editor. Affliated companies included American Builder and Radford Architectural Co.
Although there doesn’t seem to be much information on Farm Mechanics Co., Radford Architectural is another story. Apparently in the early years of the 20th century, William A. Radford and Radford Architectural were pioneers in home and barn designs. In fact, first hard-copy editions of his book Radford’s Practical Barn Plans sell for hundreds of dollars on used book Web sites. One Radford book, Old House Measured and Scaled Detail Drawings for Builders and Carpenters, was reprinted in paperback in 1983.
Of Farm Mechanics magazine, however, there is little information out there. Its publication history seems to go dark in the early 1930s, perhaps one of the many business casualties of the Great Depression. Still, if this long forgotten magazine proves anything to today’s CropLIfe IRON readers, it’s that our industry has always had a love affair with equipment — and needed some kind of publication to celebrate this desire.
So thank you, Farm Mechanics, for blazing the trail. CropLife IRON is proud to continue your grand tradition!