York Inventor Crider’s Fruit-Picker “Best in the World!”
The Crider brothers are perhaps best known for their late 19th century marriage certificate forms, especially the ones with cutouts for individual photos of the couple, and, sometimes, also of the officiating minister. (More on the certificates later.)
This time I’m sharing an ad for H.M. Crider’s 1881 “Patent Adjustable Fruit-Picker.” It was a rather simple device, as you can see by the close-up drawing—a bag with metal fingers that fit unto the end of a long handle. What is so interesting is the illustration below of several people using the fruit-pickers with impossibly long handles. A wooden handle that long and thin, if you could find one, would not be strong or maneuverable. I think the buyers had to stick to shorter trees.
Not that Crider was prone to exaggeration—the large print read that the fruit picker was:
“THE BEST IN THE WORLD!—CHEAP, DURABLE, INDISPENSABLE!”
You could have it shipped, “Complete, except the Wooden Handle, Sent by Mail, Postage Paid, on Receipt of $1.50.
Read the full ad, extolling the fruit-picker’s virtues below:
“Fruit Gathering has become one of the great and important industries of the country, and one which in the very nature of things must continue to grow in importance with the interesting demands of the market.
The problem of what fruits to grow and how to grow them successfully being solved, the next question is how to PICK them, and put them upon the market in the best possible condition. It is well known that the keeping qualities, or in other words, the care exercised in picking and handling the fruit, affect very materially their market value; and those dealers who are most particular in regard to those matters command the best prices.
A good FRUIT-PICKER has long been a desideratum, one which would do the work without injury to the fruit and would enable the operator to use it from any point of approach, or at any height without fear of dropping the fruit. The finest specimens being often on the topmost and outermost branches, it has been a question whether to risk the man or the fruit in the attempt to gather it; and alas; too often the broken limb or the still more disastrous internal injury has demonstrated the dangerous character of the work.
It is with pleasure that I now offer to fruit-growers my PATENT ADJUSTABLE FRUIT-PICKER, warranted to gather without fail, and to hold without faltering until safely deposited, any and all fruits, such as apples, pears and peaches, to which it may be applied by means of a handle of any desired length. In view of the immense loss which occurs annually from broken and consequently unusable fruits, every fruit-grower and indeed every farmer and amateur must desire to possess one.
It is so simple in construction, and yet so complete, that it leaves nothing to be desired,–being in effect simply a strong hand at the end of a long arm, with an attachment that acts like an adjustable wrist, wherewith to gather, and a convenient pouch wherein to deposit the fruit.”
You can see a similar fruit picker at York County Heritage Trust’s Agricultural and Industrial Museum. I doubt that many had handles nearly as long as those in the illustration.