Seed industry dodder counting machine

Contributed by Museum of English Rural Life

Dodder counting machine, used by staff at Suttons Seeds Ltd © University of Reading

Along with dock, sorrel and other problematic plants, dodder was classified as 'injurious' under the Seeds Act of 1920.This intriguing device was used by staff at Suttons Seeds Ltd, founded in Reading in 1806. The Seeds Act of 1920 classified various plants as 'injurious'. The incidence of weeds in commercial samples was not allowed to exceed prescribed quantities. Mechanisms like this enabled seed impurity to be assessed. This laborious process was indicative of the quality that made Suttons a global success. This object tells several international stories. Through tasks like seed-checking, working class Berkshire people aided the global reach of British industry. A colonial narrative tells how seeds produced, trialled, and packaged in Reading were traded across the globe from Burma to New Zealand. Suttons had stations throughout the British Empire, such as in Calcutta, India. During the Second World War their operations in Italy were forced to close. Synonymous with choice, the Suttons range itself included numerous plants gathered overseas.

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Made between 1920-1924


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