The trial of McCormick's new reaping machine, 25 July 1831.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Lithograph showing the field trial of McCormick's new reaping machine near Steeles Tavern, Virginia in the USA. Cyrus H McCormick (1809-1884) invented the first functionally and commercially successful reaping machine. Its first public demonstration was in 1831, but the reaper was not patented until 1834. The machine took part in trials during the 1851 Great Exhibition, along with Bell's (1799-1869) reaper, which helped lead to the acceptance of mechanised reaping in England.