On January 28, 1868, Amariah Hills of Hockanum, Connecticut, received the first US patent for a reel-type lawn mower. In 1830, Edwin Beard Budding, an engineer from Gloucestershire, England, had received the first patent for a reel-type mower, a machine with a blade assembly that rotated around a horizontal axis. Also known as a cylinder mower, this type of grass-cutting machine had two large cast-iron rollers that, when pushed across the lawn, provided traction to an oversized gear that then rotated the spiral cutting device against a stationary cutting bar.
Hills applied for the first American patent based on a practical improvement he made to the spiral cutter by opening up the cylinder. He also provided for a unique means to adjust the cutter’s height and improved the attachment of the handle to the frame. Hills began developing his design in 1861 and by 1867 was manufacturing his mower at the Curtis silver-plate factory in Glastonbury. Hills sold the rights to the patent sometime in the early 1870s, and Caleb Talcott started manufacturing the design in 1871 at the Hills “Archimedean” Lawn-Mower Company in Hartford. The name “Archimedean” came from the resemblance of the mower’s spiral cutter to an Archimedean screw. The lawn mower was a huge success, and the “Charter Oak” model was advertised as “the most beautiful and perfect lawn mower in the world.”