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John Daniel Rust is credited with the invention of the mechanical cotton picker that he patented in 1933. My grandfather, Thomas W. Ham, patented the same type of cotton picker using a smooth, moist spindle to harvest the cotton in October 14, 1879. This predates John Rust’s patent by 54 years. I have made several miniature working models from the blue prints of T. W. Ham’s invention. His model uses only a single spindle. T. W. Ham was issued patent number 220.607 on October 14, 1879, as he listed a new and improved cotton picker.
I believe they still use T. W. Ham’s idea of spindles but perhaps without moisture. I think the first pickers used moisture and spindles. Apparently his idea of moist spindles was an improvement over the 1850 patent.


Edward H. Ham
Dallas, TX