The David Bradley Manufacturing Co. was once part of Sears Roebuck and Co. Between the years 1910 and 1953, many of the farm related items sold through the Sears catalog were made by Bradley. In later years, Bradley became a leader in lawn and garden equipment.
Those who have heard of Bradley generally associate the name with a line of two wheel garden tractors sold by Sears during the ‘40s, ‘50s and early ‘60s. These tractors were quite popular at the time, and many thousands were made. In addition to a number of models, there were also numerous attachments made for these tractors. Today, collecting these attachments (and the different models of tractors) makes for an interesting and challenging hobby.
Bradley also made numerous riding tractors. Early Bradley riders included the Graham Bradley, a full sized farm tractor manufactured by Graham-Paige in the late thirties. Another was the Handiman RT sold in the late 30s and early 40s. 1954 saw the introduction of one of the most interesting (and collectable) of the Bradley riders, the three wheeled Tri-Trac. While none of these tractors were particularly successful (most were sold for only a couple of years) unbelievable success came in the late ‘50s with the introduction of the Suburban line. The Suburban represented the birth of what we know today as the lawn tractor. Hundreds of thousands of these tractors were sold. Today, all of these different Bradley riding tractors are quite collectable.
Although lawn and garden equipment represents the most common Bradley items, Bradley also made, or marketed, a broad line of full sized farm equipment. This line included wagon gear, hay rakes, loaders, mowers, hammer mills, etc. The Bradley name could also be found on cream separators, pump jacks, incubators, and windmills.
In fact, the David Bradley Manufacturing Co. had been producing farm implements since 1885 (twenty five years before Sears bought the company), and since 1854 as Furst and Bradley. This early horse drawn equipment is also vigorously collected. Among the most sought after items are cast iron Furst and Bradley implement seats, and Garden City Clipper walking plows.
Collecting David Bradley equipment is both a fun and worthwhile hobby. Equipment made during the Sears era is very well cataloged, helping the collector to understand what was made and when. The large production quantities of most of the post war equipment also translates into items that are still relatively easy to find, at a modest cost.
See www.davidbradley.net for more information