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The Lightning Apple Parer, pictured above, was manufactured by Goodell & Company and is marked PATENTED OCT. 6, 1863 and AUG 23, '64. Examples without the "foot" that acts as a guide along the inside curved rack have an additional patent date of JUNE 18 '67.

Ephraim Loriston Pratt (1817-1869) was granted two letters patent for apple parers on October 6, 1863, US40185 and US40216. Amazingly, he was also granted two letters patent for parers on August 23, 1864, US43955 and US43956. David Harvey Goodell (1834-1915) was granted letters patent for his lightning style parer on June 18, 1867.

Thornton, in his book Apple Parers attributes US40216 to the October 6, 1863 patent date. Pratt's patent US40216 is for an improved cutter head and he lists himself as assignor to George R. Carter, Goodell's partner. The cutter-head is equipped with a spring that "rocks" the blade as it pares so as to utilize the blade's entire cutting surface. No known Lightning Apple Parers include this feature. However, images in early advertisments seem to show a spring on the rod right below the paring knife, see below. It would be ironic if the most prominant patent date on this parer is for a feature that was not used.

Thornton attributes US43955 to the August 23, 1864 patent date. Pratt's patent US43955 includes three inventive claims: an arc style parer in which the pinion makes one complete revolution about its center to pare and reset the machine, a cam to push the paring arm away from the fork after paring, and a slot to guide the paring arm. In the Lightning Apple Parer the pinion stays engaged with the rack, first away from the operator during paring and then back towards the operator to reset the machine. The Lightning does include a cam slot to guide the paring arm and an extension (lever) to push the paring arm away from the fork.

Interestingly, D. H. Goodell references patents US40185 and US43956 in his issued letters patent for June 18, 1867. It seems reasonable to assume these might be the patents referred to on the Lighnting Apple Parers. Pratt's patent US40185 is for a mechanism to keep the paring arm away from the apple once it is pared. Pratt illustrates his invention on a return parer. Although Pratt does not list any assignees on the issued letters patent, Goodell indicates he and Carter own patent US40185 in his patent US65804.

In Pratt's patent US43956 he list himself as assignor to Carter and Goodell. The patent claims a fork designed to accomodate peaches and a paring arm with a crank or bend. A single spring acting on the crank rotates the rod allowing its fixed blade to pare on its entire cutting surface, thus Pratt's US43956 achieves what Pratt's US40216 does, but with one spring instead of two. Pratt illustrates his inventions on an arc style parer, which he says is described in another patent application (US43955).

Goodell makes two inventive claims for US65804, first for the notch in the cam slot that holds the paring knife away from the fork after paring and second the described fruit parer (which is the Lightning). Goodell states that George R. Carter and E. L. Pratt are assignees of his invention. Goodell points out that he does not make a claim for the paring arm that acts as a crank or for a design that pushes the paring arm away from the apple, which are covered by patents granted for improvements made by E. L. Pratt (US40185 and US43956).

The earliest Lightning Apple Parers carry two patent dates, Oct. 6, 1863 and August 23, 1864. So, how old are these parers? An August 1866 advertisement in the American Agriculturist introduces readers to a new machine called the "Lightning Apple Parer" on page 287. An advertisement for the Lightning appears on page 301 of the same volume and states the parer had a "thorough trial" over the last year. It appears that the Lightning was first marketed either in 1865 or 1866; although, there is no mention of the Lightning apple parer in any of the American Agriculturist issues of 1865.

The parer is illustrated with a straight paring arm equipped with two springs, one below the paring head that can be adjusted with a setscrew. This paring arm corresponds to Pratt's patent US40216. I am not aware of any known examples that have the paring arm with straight rod and two springs.


Lightning Introduced


Lightning Parer First Advertisement


One year later, an August 1867 advertisement entitled 'The Prize Apple Parer at the Paris Exposition' in the American Agriculturist highlights premiums awarded to the Lightning Apple Parer and indicates that it had received hundreds of testimonials over the past two years. The parer is illustrated with a single spring attached to a bent paring arm which corresponds to Pratt's patent US43956. All known Lightning Apple Parers are equipped with a paring arm that has a slight bend that acts as a crank to rotate the paring head over the surface of the apple.


Paris Exposition Lightning

Landers, Frary, & Clark offered the Lightning apple parer in their 1869 catalogue for $10 per dozen. Note they use the early illustration that includes the paring arm with straight rod and two spring system.


Lightning Apple Parer Landers, Frary, and Clark 1869 Catalogue Page 112


Goodell's Lightning Apple Parer was a huge success. According to an article about David H. Goodell in the June 1883 volume of The Granite Monthly he had sold 7,200 dozen machines by 1868.

However, including push-off mechanisms to make removal of an apple from the fork easier became popular during the 1870's. Goodell made several attempts to include a push-off on the Lightning style parers, but none of these attempts was a resounding success.

In the parer below the push-off mechanism is engaged as the rod carrying the blade is pushed away from the apple. Many of the apples purchased from the store are too large and as the push-off engages with the apple on the fork, the opposite end of the apple runs up against the paring arm rod. The largest apple that you can pare is around 2 3/4 inches tall. After the apple is pared the push-off nudges it forward on the fork. The operator then brings the parer back to the middle of the rack at which point the apple is easily removed.

Goodell experimented with multiple variations of The Lightning Apple parer, including, for example, a vertically mounted version and one designed to pare peaches as well as apples. The Lightning was without a doubt the most successful arc style parer ever invented and remains popular among collectors to this day.


Lightning Apple Parer with push-off mechanism


Lightning Apple Parer with Push-Off

Horizontal Lightning Apple Parer with push-off mechanism
PATENTED OCT 6. 1863 AUG 23 64 JUNE18 67



Goodell, D.H., inventor; Improved Fruit-Paring Machine. 1867 June 18. US65804.

Judd, Orange, editor, American Agriculturist Vol. 25, No. 8 (New Series no. 235). New York: Orange Judd 1866.

Judd, Orange, editor, American Agriculturist Vol. 26, No. 8 (New Series no. 247). New York: Orange Judd 1867.

'Hon. David H. Goodell' The Granite Monthly, June, 1883. Vol. 6, No. 9., pp. 273 & 274.

Landers, Frary & Clark (1869). Illustrated Catlogue and Price List of Table Cutlery and Hardware Manufactured by Landers, Frary & Clark Manufactories New Britain, Connecticut. New York: Hartford Press William C. Hutchings & Co.

Pratt, E.L., inventor; Improved Apple-Parer. 1863 October 6. US40185.

Pratt, E. L., inventor; Cutter Head for Apple-Parers. 1863 October 6. US40216.

Pratt, E. L., inventor; Improved Apple-Parer. 1864 August 23. US43955.

Pratt, E. L., inventor; Improved Peach-Parer. 1864 August 23. US43956.





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