Thursday, 9:10am
18 June 2009

Heavy metal

Anthony Oliver’s Common Knowledge piece about tractor badges from Eye 71

My father was a design engineer who specialised in heavy earth-moving equipment, writes photographer Anthony Oliver, so I grew up around iconic names such as Kenworth Trucks, Caterpillar and Oshkosh (the most powerful trucks in the world – not kids’ dungarees).


Above: tractor badge, 1967; top: badge, 1950-59

And I was always aware of these solid metal tractor badges. The older ones were probably created in-house by engineering designers, and many, like the one for Hart Parr, would have been cast as an integral part of the machine.


Above: tractor badge, late 1950s-early 60s; below: badge, 1924.


The Fordson Major tractor made a huge contribution to agricultural productivity in postwar Britain, and the image in its oval badge (below) is an optimistic symbiosis of man, machine and nature. This is a logo that lives up to its product – or should that be the other way round?


More words and pictures in Eye 71, Spring 2009, now available to buy online as a single issue from the new Eye shop. Eye 72 out very soon.