The earliest Lightning Apple Parers are embossed with a single patent date of Oct. 6, 1863, issued to E. L. Pratt for a spring-loaded paring head (Pratt, 1863). The parer used for the video is a second iteration of the Lightning Apple Parer that despenses with the spring-loaded paring head and has a second patent date of Aug. 23, '64 embossed on the left side of the lever arm frame (Pratt, 1864). Both of the early versions use a "foot" that slides along the inside curved rack to support the lever arm frame during the paring process.
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 ad 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.
In August of 1867 an 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 now illustrated with a bend in the paring arm rod.
Sometime in 1867 Goodell made a third version of his parer that had a different gear ratio, a third patent date of June 18, '67 embossed on the right side of the lever arm frame, a paring arm with a fixed paring head and slight bend in the rod. The slight bend in the paring arm rod acts as a crank, slightly rotating the paring arm as it pares so that the entire cutting surface of the blade is used. Thus, it accomplishes with a single spring what the initial model did with two. The new design was made without the foot to support the lever arm frame. This is the most common version found today.
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. Visit the evolution section of our website to learn more about the Lightning Apple Parer.
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.