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Lucius Styles Ball – Inventor

I bet that, in his wildest dreams, Lucius S. Ball, father of the Ball brothers, never thought that he’d be featured in a museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Yet he is.

Although primarily a farmer, Lucius S. dabbled in a variety of occupations, including the mercantile business and buying and selling find-bred horses. In New York, he organized an oil company to develop oil leases that he purchased in Kentucky, and he developed and operated a hay press.

Then there were the inventions. First, Lucius S. invented a horse-drawn hay rake, a labor saving device that he did not patent. Next, he invented a pressed-paper egg barrel that was patented and produced. Why an egg barrel? Along with other farm products, Lucius S. bought and sold eggs. The eggs were packed in barrels and padded with straw, and the eggs often broke in shipment. Lucius S. designed a package made of paper pulp pressed into sheets with individual pockets for the eggs that provided much better protection. Frank C. Ball’s first job off of the farm was working in the paper mill that produced the egg barrels.

Now back to that museum in Germany. Several years ago, archivist Susan Smith received a call from a curator at the Vitra Design Museum. Staff there was in the process of developing an on-line exhibition featuring great design in everyday products. The curator found information in the Minnetrista Heritage Collection on-line about the egg barrel and wanted to include a photograph of Lucius S. Ball in the exhibit section that features egg cartons. You can check it out at www.hidden-heroes.net.

It’s no wonder that the five Ball brothers were so resourceful.

minnetrista heritage collection

minnetrista collects the objects and archival material that document the people, places, events, organisations, businesses and industry of the region – in other words, the history of east central indiana.

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