Cotton Planter

Jim Nelson of Greenwood, SC, made this cotton planter before the turn of the twentieth century. Like many farmers, Nelson tinkered with available material. There were numerous patents for cotton planters, and factory-made planters were available.
Nelson's planter is all-wood except for the furrow opener and the furrow closer and a rim that goes around the wheel at the center of the drum. The drum is made of soft wood and measures 20 inches in diameter and 13 inches by width. In operation, the drum was filled with cotton seeds that fell through 13 openings as the drum revolved. The two metal pieces used as a furrow opener are 13 ½ inches high by 3 ½ inches wide, and the furrow coverers measure 8 ½ inches high by 1 ½ inch wide. Both are bolted to the wooden frame and controlled by a cord on the handles.
Ruben F. Vaughn bought the planter in 1902 and used it until he donated it to the National Museum of American History in 1937.
Currently not on view
Date made
ca 1900
Nelson, Jim
Place Made
United States: South Carolina, Greenwood
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
hand-made (overall production method/technique)
overall: 33 1/4 in x 58 in x 18 in; 84.455 cm x 147.32 cm x 45.72 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Ruben F. Vaughn
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Work and Industry: Agriculture
Artifact Walls exhibit
Artifact Walls
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History