The John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Ill., is like a storybook that keeps offering up new pages to enjoy. Although a visitor may have been there recently, each new stop will feature new sights and sounds.
During my visit in December to the Pavilion, a lovely Sevres Vase was on display. The vase had been awarded to John Deere at the Paris Exposition in 1878; it was made at the Sevres factory, located in the French town of the same name.
Metropolitan Art Museum history reflects that the factory was founded in the town of Vincennes in 1740, then reestablished in larger quarters at Sevres in 1756. The factory became the main source of hard-paste porcelain in Europe in the second half of the 18th century.
The vase was awarded at the third Paris World’s Fair, an Exposition Universelle in French. This event was held from May 1-Nov. 10, 1878, and celebrated France’s recovery from the Franco-Prussian War.
The Exposition covered more than 66 acres, with the main building occupying 54 of those.
French exhibits filled half the entire space, with the remaining space divided among the other nations of the world (except for Germany). The fair offered an exhibition of fine arts and new machinery on the Avenue des Nations. Architecture was devoted to examples of the domestic styles of nearly every country in Europe, the United States and several in Asia and Africa.
More than 13 million people paid to attend the exposition, making it a financial success.
The Sevres Vase on display at the Pavilion in Moline was given to Deere for the outstanding performance of the Deere Gang Plow against the French competition. Deere information shows at the turn of the 20th century, five product lines dominated John Deere’s output: plows, cultivators, harrows, drills and planters and wagons and buggies.
One of the most popular of these was the plow. The company states in 1875 John Deere manufactured and sold the Gilpin 2-Wheel Sulky Plow. This was one of the first riding plows, and it was a great success because it made the job easier, allowing the operator to ride while driving three horses.
Sales reached 135,102 in 1899 and the design would later evolve into three-wheel plows and gang plows with two bottoms. The Gilpin plow was developed by Gilpin Moore, who was born in Chester County, Pa., on Oct. 27, 1831, to a family of English and Scottish descent.
Gilpin moved from Pennsylvania at the age of 14 to Rock Island, Ill., where his father, Hibbard, a blacksmith, had arrived seven years before. Gilpin worked in his father’s shop until he was 18, when he apprenticed himself for three years in a machine shop in Rock Island.
In 1864, after serving as shop superintendent, he began working for Deere & Co. and in 1868 he became a partner and took the position of superintendent of the Iron Department. While working for Deere, he developed the Gilpin plow.
A visit to the Deere Pavilion always shows how it houses fresh history about this agricultural giant. It is located at 1400 River Dr., Moline, IL 61265; call 309-765-1000 for more information.
Readers with questions or comments for Cindy Ladage may write to her in care of this publication.