The Shanks Britisher was introduced in the late 1800s or early 1900s and became one of the most successful sidewheel mowers ever made. It was still listed in the Shanks catalogue in 1939. By that time many thousands, if not millions, had been sold.
Shanks produced a sidewheel mower known as "The Britannia" during the early 1890s and the two designs are very similar. The Britisher appears to have been introduced around about 1900 and is listed in a number of catalogues and booklets for the following year. The company's 1927 catalogue claims that the design is almost 30 years old. From this it follows that the model came out between 1898 and 1901.
In 1913 the Britisher was available in 12in, 14in and 16in cutting widths, priced 28/-, 30/- and 32/- respectively with grass boxes 5/6, 6/- and 7/- extra respectively. In 1927 the Britisher was available in 10in, 12in and 14in cutting widths (the 16in was not listed) priced at 45/-, 49/- and 53/- respectively. Grass boxes were available for an additional 13/-, 14/- and 15/- respectively. These prices are in shillings, the British currency unit of the time, where 20/- was one pound.
By 1939 prices, with the 16in back in the catalogue, ranged from £2-6-6d to £2-18-6d, again with grass box and delivery plate extra.
The mower was also available with an extra long handle. This was fitted so that the mower could be used on banked or sloping lawns. The user could then stand at the top of bottom of the slope without having to walk on the inclined lawn.
The Britisher was a very basic design and this helped keep the cost of production, and the selling price, reasonably low. On the early models the supporting struts for the wooden T handle were made of cast iron but on later models this was replaced with wrought iron and steel. Early models also feature a basic rectangular nameplate with the wording "British Make Shanks". On later models the nameplate was rounded and had the wording "The Britisher" surrounding a thistle.
The colour of the Britisher seems to have changed over the years. Early examples have the traditional green and red although some later models have pale blue bodies with green and red wheels.
The Britisher is relatively common mower today and many collectors have examples. However the differences in design, colour and size mean that there are many variations to find and collect.