The invention of the modern crank-operated corn sheller is widely attributed to Mr. Lester E. Denison from Middlesex County, Connecticut. Denison was issued a patent on August 12 1839, for a freestanding, hand-operated threshing machine that removed individual kernels of corn by pulling the cob through a series of metal-toothed cylinders which stripped the kernels off the cob.
During that same century, dozens of American patents were filed for corn shellers made of wood, iron or a combination of the two, including one in 1845 by Joseph Briggs of Saratoga County, New York. His sheller produced similar results to that of the Denison sheller but was a compact unit, designed to be supported on a bench or chair.
In the early 1900’s, a number of engine-powered corn shellers were developed which provided the foundation for modern commercial and agricultural shellers. These large stream-powered corn thresher machine have now been mostly replaced with the use of the modern combine harvester that strips the kernels from the corn cob while the corn is being harvested in the field.
Since the introduction of the modern corn sheller in the 1800’s, the basic design and function of this machine has remained the same with most modern-day corn shellers bearing a strong resemblance to the original models designed by inventors like Denison and Briggs.