|S.L. Allen and his wife, Sarah, in 1901|
I've written about Samuel Leeds Allen in the past. He's the man who started the Planet Jr. company. This Essay In Particular is one I like because I shared some of the "Precepts of Samuel L. Allen," and they are very good precepts.
I admire Samuel L. Allen for his character, his inventiveness and for building a company that was known for treating its workers very well.
Allen's unusual Planet Jr. name and logo was the inspiration for my equally unusual Planet Whizbang name and logo, which came about after I invented a wheel hoe design back in May of 2009. I Tell The Story Of The Logo Here. And you can learn all about my Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe Here.
Since I first wrote about Planet Jr. and S.L. Allen back in 2009, interest in his company and the Planet Jr. line of tools has grown considerably. Planet Jr. wheel hoes, seeders, and ephemera can fetch big prices on Ebay.
The old Planet Jr. catalogs, in particular, are sought-after collectibles. I myself sell PDF downloads of the 1898 Catalog and the 1941 Catalog.
Last year, someone named S. L. Allen, IV purchased a PDF copy of one of my catalogs. I couldn't believe my eyes. S.L. Allen purchased a copy of a Planet Jr. catalog from me? I had to write this person.
It turns out that Mr. Allen is a direct descendent of the S.L. Allen of Planet Jr. fame. I told him that he has a great family heritage.
Then, a few weeks back, I wrote Mr. Allen with a question. I have long wondered if there is a Planet Jr. museum. I had heard that the Brandywine museum had a Planet Jr. display, but I couldn't see where that was the case online. If anyone would know of such a museum, surely it would be S.L. Allen the fourth! He replied as follows...
Sadly, I don't know of any one museum that has a very broad collection of great great grandfather's equipment. There is a nice Flexible Flyer sled display in the Moorestown Library and I know of a very early Planet seeder in a different New Jersey museum but for the most part no one has dedicated a display of any large size to the bulk of the 99 years of the company. The references you mention to the Brandywine museum I believe came from comments from my aunt Penny. But while chasing down that lead I found that while there is still something called the Brandywine museum, it is not in the same state as the one originally referenced and it is an art museum, not one housing farm equipment.Thus, I'm sorry to say, there is no Planet Jr. museum. But there are a lot of serious collectors out there who are gathering old Planet Jr. tools. Perhaps one day it will happen.
The state of NJ also had a collection that was run by one of the colleges in the midstate, but that museum closed some years back and they reportedly gave all of the equipment back to whomever leant it in the first place.
In the meantime, I'm pleased to report that the great, great grandson of S.L. Allen is working on a book...
On a related note, I am personally trying to gather as much data as I can in the hopes of putting out a Planet Jr. book. I hope for it to be similar to Joan Palacia's Flexible Flyer book, but I'm still collecting, scanning and collating at this point. And while I personally own a fairly sizeable collection, I know of at least 4 people each of whom have collections that dwarf my own. One fellow has close to 50 different Planet Jr tractors, another has several hundred seeders, etc. It is my hope to work with them to help me with images for the book. I suspect I'm over a year away from completing the research though- I still need to scan several hundred more parts lists, manuals, ledgers and catalogs to have the base from which I begin the real work!A lot of people are not aware that Planet Jr. made motorized, walk-behind tractors with all kinds of implements. Check Out This Link to learn about a guy who is farming with restored Planet Jr. walk-behind tractors.
If you are interested in the history of Planet Jr. and the company that produced Planet Jr. tools, be sure to check out This Story about the old S.L Allen Factory in Philadelphia.
Fortunately, the remarkable home that S.L. Allen built in 1894 is in better shape than the factory. You can learn more about it At This Link.
Lacking a museum to visit, I'm really looking forward to Mr. Allen's Planet Jr. book. I'll be purchasing a copy, for sure. And I'll let you know all about it here when the time comes.