Appleby, John F.

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b. 1840 New York, US A
d. ? USA
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American inventor of the knotting mechanism used on early binders and still found on modern baling machines.
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As a young man John Appleby worked as a labourer for a farmer near Whitewater in Wisconsin. He was 18 when the farmer bought a new reaping machine. Appleby believed that the concept had not been progressed far enough and that the machine should be able to bind sheaths as well as to cut the corn. It is claimed that while watching a dog playing with a skipping rope he noticed a particular knot created as the dog removed its head from the loop that had passed over it, and recognized the potential of the way in which this knot had been formed. From a piece of apple wood he carved a device that would produce the knot he had seen. A local school teacher backed Appleby's idea with a $50 loan, but the American Civil War and service in the Union Army prevented any further development until 1869 when he took out a patent on a wire-tying binder. A number of the devices were made for him by a company in Beloit. Trials of wire binders held in 1873 highlighted the danger of small pieces of wire caught up in the hay leading to livestock losses. Appleby looked again at the possibility of twine. In 1875 he successfully operated a machine and the following season four were in operation. A number of other developments, not least Behel's "bill hook" knotting device, were also to have an influence in the final development of Appleby's twine-tying binder. As so often happens, it was the vision of the entrepreneur which ultimately led to the success of Appleby's device. In 1877 Appleby persuaded William Deering to produce and market his binder, and 3,000 twine binders, together with the twine produced for them, were put on the market in 1880, with immediate success. Over the next dozen years all harvesting-machine manufacturers adopted the idea, under licence to Appleby.
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Further Reading
G.Quick and W.Buchele, 1978, The Grain Harvesters, American Society of Agricultural Engineers (provides an account of the development of harvesting machinery and the various tying devices developed for them).
1927, "Twine knotter history", Wisconsin Magazine of History (a more specific account).
AP

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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