Thursday, June 29, 2017

James Vick's Seed and Plant Catalog from Rochester, New York

James Vick was born in Portsmouth, England on Nov. 23, 1818.  In 1833, at the age of 12, he arrived in New York City to learn the printing trade.  In 1837, he moved with his parents to Rochester, New York where he set type for several newspapers and journals.  In 1849, James Vick was elected corresponding secretary of the Genesee Valley Horticultural Society. Vick was associated with the "Genesee Farmer" as a writer and editor from 1849 became owner and publisher in 1855.  With Vick as editor, the publication became more elegant and circulation rapidly increased.  A year later he sold out to Joseph Harris.  On the death of A. J. Downing, James Vick bought "The Horticulturist" and moved it to Rochester in 1853.  It was devoted to horticulture, floriculture, landscape gardening, and rural architecture. About this time, Vick started to grow flowers and then began sending seeds out by mail to the readers of his publication. In 1855 he established a seed store and nursery on East Avenue in Rochester.  In 1856, Vick started "Rural Annual and Horticultural Directory."  The first half was a seed catalog and the second a list of nurserymen.  This was taken over in 1857 by Joseph Harris who continued it until 1867.

With Vick’s knowledge of chromolithography and training as a printer, he produce a catalog and later a monthly magazine.  The first, "Floral Guide and Catalogue" was printed in 1862.  His "Floral Guides" provided gardening advice, quality color prints, and reached a circulation of 250,000.  He entertained his readers with anecdotes, published letters he had received, and had a special section for children. By 1870, his mail was averaging over 3000 letters and over 300 orders a day.  As many as 150,000 catalogs were sent out each year.  A staff of more than 100 worked in the office and packing house.  There were over 75 acres of seed gardens scattered about the city.  In 1876, the catalog offered 46 pages of general gardening information followed by a price list. In 1878, Vick started a paper, "Vick’s Illustrated Monthly" which was published by the Vick Seed Company in Rochester and in Dansville until 1909.  This magazine was sold by subscription. Vick also printed a set of prints that were either sold or offered as premiums with large orders. Vick was one of the most successful horticultural seedsman, writers, and merchandisers of his day. The Vick Seed Company continued into the 20th century before being sold to the Burpee Seed Co.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A W Livingston's Sons 1895 Seed Annual from Columbus, OH

A W Livingston's Sons 1895 Seed Annual from Columbus, OH
Alexander W. Livingston was born on October 14, 1822, near Reynoldsburg, Ohio. He grew up on his family's farm & received limited schooling. He could read & write & do simple math problems. While still a child, Livingston showed an interest in seeds & plants, & many Reynoldsburg residents viewed him as an authority on these subjects. Upon reaching adulthood, Livingston married Matilda Dickey Graham. The couple had 10 children. In 1852, Livingston purchased 70 acres of land near Reynoldsburg. Here he developed A.W. Livingston Buckeye Seed Gardens, a seed business. His business quickly prospered. At this time, Livingston began to try to improve the tomato. He succeeded in doing so in 1870. Livingston spent two decades breeding his "Paragon" tomato. Tomatoes existed before Livingston, but they were small fruits with a sour taste. Livingston's Paragon was much larger & had a sweeter taste. Over the next 28 years, Livingston developed more than 30 other varieties of tomatoes. His work helped to make tomatoes more popular with American cooks. A scientist until the end of his life, Livingston died in 1898.
Timeline:
1822 - Founder Alexander W Livingston b in Reynoldsburg, OH 
1842 - Begins working for a local seed grower. 
1844 - Marries and leases land to begin farming.
1852 - Purchases his own land for a farm & seed business. 
1856 - Purchases 400 boxes of the Buckeye Garden Seed Company from Robert Robertson who was moving to Iowa.  During the late 1850s and early 1860s, business does well; and Livingston is able to expand his farming and seed operations. 
1864-65 - Builds a family home and consolidates seed and farming operations in one location. 
1875-76 - The Buckeye Garden Seed Company went bankrupt in the economic crash that affected many businesses in the nation. The business is dissolved and new entity formed by son Robert and named, "A. W. Livingston's Sons." Marketing was expanded using seed catalogs and advertising in newspapers and magazines. 
1880 - The company moves from Reynoldsburg to Columbus, Ohio. Alexander moves to Des Moines, Iowa after purchasing the farm of his friend Robert Robertson. Alexander's plan was to relocate the entire company to Iowa, but the business was prospering in Columbus under his son's management. 
1890 - After Alexander's wife passes away, he turned over the Iowa seed business to his son, Josiah. He returned to Ohio and began to work on his book, "Livingston and the Tomato." It was part autobiographical, part instructional, and part agricultural history. It combined information about Livingston's methods, the history of the tomato as a food crop, and even contained a large selection of compiled recipes. 
1898 - The company is incorporated as the Livingston Seed Company. Founder, A. W. Livingston passes away. 
1919 - The Livingstons were big players in the seed trade industry interacting with many major seed houses. They had their own grow outs as well as 'traded' stock. On April 1st, 1919, a fire broke out at one of their warehouses destroying everything. The McCullough's Sons Seed Company from Cincinnati, took the train up to Columbus the next day, gathered up what they could, and filled orders for the Livingstons. Even with their help, Livingstons still was forced to send out a form letter returning orders along with money.  
1930s - By the late 1930s, the seed industry had begun to change. The company survived by moving into field seeds, and dropped tomatoes from their line. 1937 - The United States Department of Agriculture's "Yearbook of Agriculture" for the year 1937 published the following short history: "The work of A. W. Livingston, of Columbus, Ohio, and his associates and successors in the Livingston Seed Co. has resulted in the introduction of more new varieties than that of any other private group. Most of the varieties introduced by the Livingstons were of their own finding or origination, but some were obtained from other growers. Paragon, from a chance seedling, was their first introduction (1870). The famous old variety Acme was developed by A. W. Livingston from a single superior plant found in a field of mixed stock and introduced in 1875. Like the Trophy, this variety was the source or served as one parent of many subsequently introduced varieties. In 1880 Perfection, a chance variant in Acme, was introduced. Livingston next brought out Golden Queen in 1882, Favorite in 1883, Beauty in 1886, Potato Leaf in 1887, Stone in 1889, and Royal Red in 1892. This last was developed from seven similar plants found in a field of Dwarf Champion by M. M. Miesse. The others just named were chance seedlings occurring in varieties the names of which are not known. These were followed by Aristocrat and Buckeye State in 1893, Honor Bright in 1897, and Magnus in 1900, as chance seedlings in varieties not recorded. In 1903 Dwarf Stone was introduced; it was a chance seedling found in Stone. Globe is from a cross between Stone and Ponderosa made about 1899 by Robert Livingston and was introduced in 1905. Hummer, another introduction, was selected out of Paragon. Of this impressive list introduced by the Livingstons, Stone and Globe are among the most important varieties grown today. Acme, Beauty, Buckeye State, Dwarf Stone, Golden Queen, and Perfection are still listed by some seed producers although they are not extensively grown." "With all due credit to the important contributions of other growers, seedsmen, and investigators, it is not out of place to call attention again to the great contribution of the Livingston Seed Co. to tomato improvement. Of about 40 varieties that had attained a distinct status prior to 1910, a third were productions or introductions by the Livingston company. If we add those varieties derived directly from Livingston productions and introductions, it appears that half of the major varieties were due to the abilities of the Livingstons to evaluate and perpetuate superior material in the tomato." 
1947 - The last wholesale catalog was produced. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

1894 Charles A Green's Fruit Instruction Manual From Rochester, NY

Charles A Green was born on a farm near Rochester, NY.  He became a banker for 15 years; until the financial panic of 1873, when he returned to farming 12 miles south of Rochester. He loved growing and selling fruits especially apple and peach trees, and also published books on fruit growing and edited a horticultural magazine for over 30 years.  

Friday, June 23, 2017

John A. Bruce & Co. Seed Catalog from Hamilton, Canada

John A. Bruce & Co. Seed Catalog from Hamilton, Canada.  The Seed Warehouse of this firm, one of the largest and best equipped in Canada, was situated in Hamilton on the corner of King and McNab Streets, had a frontage of 30 feet on the former and 130 feet on the latter, occupying 7 plots. The business was established by John A. Bruce in 1850, and in 1861 his brother, F. C. Bruce, became partner. They popularized soybeans in Canada and beyond. Brothers John and Frank Bruce had supplied a Canadian market for quality seeds of all kinds since 1850. By the time John A. Bruce and Company first offered soybean seed for sale, it had an established reputation for introducing new and improved varieties of field crop, vegetable and flower seeds, tools, and ideas to farmers and gardeners throughout the Dominion of Canada.  Their exhibit mounted by the Bruce Company at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 was awarded the World’s Fair Medal and a diploma “for the superior quality of our exhibit of Oats, Peas, Rye, Millet and Timothy Seeds.” While the Bruce Company maintained a seed farm and trial grounds on Main Street East, Hamilton, in addition to its offices and warehouse at the corner of King and McNab Streets, many seeds sold by them in Canada were imported from Britain, France, California, and a few from Holland and Denmark. By offering larger quantities of seed at more favorable prices per unit, the Bruce Company targeted farmers who intended to plant soybeans as a field crop, not a garden or vegetable crop. John A. Bruce's seed-house encouraged farmers to buy their products "Farmers all over the Dominion are awakening to the fact that it pays to buy the very best seeds that can be procured, and our long connection with the best growers in the seed producing districts gives us exceptional advantages in securing the best samples offered, while our cleaning facilities are unequaled. The large annual increase in our trade with the farmers of the Dominion is an evidence of the superiority of our stocks and of the personal attention we give to the interests of our patrons. Our first grades of Clovers and Timothy are in all cases export seed." In North America, more seed and nursery companies came into being during the 2nd half of the 19C, especially after the US Civil War. Mail-order became much more common due to improved transportation networks and US postal reforms in the 1860s that made it cheaper to ship seeds and plant material, as well as catalog. Mail-order companies increased the size and number, often including colorful art, of catalogs they produced, and most catalogs were shipped to customers free upon request. As more business was done by mail, catalogs contained more detailed ordering and shipping instructions. John A. Bruce & Company, produced mail order catalogs and instructional leaflets from 1862-1932.

Monday, June 19, 2017

1898 The Conrad & Jones Co New Floral Guide from West Grove, PA

1898 The Conrad & Jones Co New Floral Guide from West Grove, PA
Alfred Fellenberg Conard (1835-1906) of West Grove, Pennsylvania–was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1835.  He descended from German Quakers who were part of William Penn’s Colony in 1683. He worked on his father’s farm and learned the nursery business from Thomas M. Harvey.  Conard formed the firm of Conard & Brother, but some time after 1862 he started a nursery business with Charles Dingee under the name Dingee & Conard. The business had 2 greenhouses, and the establishment was known as the Harmony Grove Nursery.  About 1867, the firm started propagating roses under a new system introduced by Antoine Wintzer.  Conard conceived the idea of disposing of their rose stock through the mail. Their first catalog offered bedding plants, shrubbery, bulbs, seeds, and roses. About 1892, Conard separated from Dingee and along with Antoine Wintzer joined with S. Morris Jones in 1897, to become Conard & Jones Co. The new company continued with the growing and distribution of roses and flowering plants. As another specialty, they worked on the improvement of the canna. Conard died on December 15, 1906.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Scarlet Mexican Lily from The Dingee & Conard Co. Catalog fr0m West Grove PA - Back Cover 1897

Scarlet Mexican Lily (Sprekelia formosissima) The Dingee & Conard Co. Catalog - Back Cover 1897 
Timeline:
1855: Alfred Conard formed the firm of Conard & Brother of West Grove, PA
1862: Conard started a nursery business with Charles Dingee under the name Dingee & Conard. The business had two greenhouses and the establishment was known as the Harmony Grove Nursery. 1867: Dingee & Conard began propagating roses under a new system introduced by Antoine Wintzer, the head nurseryman, and a world-class hybridiser. Conard conceived the idea of disposing of their rose stock through the mail. Their first catalog offered bedding plants, shrubbery, bulbs, seeds, and roses. 
1888: Howard Preston sold his farm (a dairy farm and regional creamery) to S. Morris Jones, who continued to operate the creamery. 
1892: Conard separated from Dingee and along with Antoine Wintzer joined with S. Morris Jones. The new company continued with the growing and distribution of roses and flowering plants. Much of the farmland acquired by Jones became part of Conard-Pyle, the house was eventually provided to the head nurseryman, Antoine Wintzer, as his residence. 
1895: Antoine Wintzer worked on the improvement of the canna. 
1897: The name became Conard & Jones Co.

Alfred Fellenberg Conard (1835–1906) of West Grove, PA was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1835. He descended from German Quakers who were part of William Penn’s Colony in 1683. He worked on his father’s farm and learned the nursery business from Thomas M. Harvey. Charles Dingee was a member of the Dingee seeds family. Antoine "Leon" Wintzer was born in Alsace, France, emigrating to the USA at an early age, died at West Grove, PA in 1930. The head-nurseryman before becoming the company's Vice-President.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

1898 Burpee's Seed and Plant Catalog

W. Atlee Burpee (1858-1915) - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Doylestown, Pennsylvania; Lompoc California; Swedesboro, New Jersey The W. Atlee Burpee & Company was founded by W. Atlee Burpee in 1876 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   Atlee was born in 1858, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  At fourteen years of age, Atlee’s hobby was breeding chickens, geese and turkeys.  He corresponded with poultry experts worldwide and wrote scholarly articles in poultry journals.   With a partner, in 1876, the 18 year old Atlee started a mail-order chicken business in the family home with $1,000 loaned to him by his mother.  Poultry farmers from the Northeast knew of his business, and he soon opened a store in Philadelphia, selling not only poultry but also corn seed for poultry feed.  It wasn’t long before his customers started requesting cabbage, carrot, cauliflower and cucumber seeds.  In 1878, Burpee dropped his partner and founded W. Atlee Burpee & Company, mainly for garden seeds, but poultry wasn’t dropped from the Burpee catalog until the 1940s.   By 1888, the family home, Fordhook Farms, in Doylestown, seed packet - Burpee's seed sense Pennsylvania, was established as an experimental farm to test and evaluate new varieties of vegetables and flowers, and to produce seeds.  Before World War I, Atlee spent many summers traveling through Europe and the United States, visiting farms and searching for the best flowers and vegetables.  Atlee shipped many of the vegetables and flowers he found to Fordhook Farms for testing.  Those plants that survived were bred with healthier types to produce hybrids better suited to the United States.  Fordhook Farms was the first laboratory to research and test seeds in this way.  Fordhook Farms specialized in testing onions, beets, carrots, peas and cabbage.  In 1909, Burpee established Floradale Farms in Lompoc, California, to test sweet peas, and Sunnybrook Farms near Swedesboro, New Jersey tested tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and squashes.  In his travels, Atlee met Asa Palmer, a Pennsylvania farmer who raised beans, and who thought he had one plant that was resistant to cutworms.  Burpee turned this bean plant into what is now known as the Fordhook lima bean, one of the company’s most famous items.  Another successful plant was the Golden Bantam sweet corn that the farmer William Chambers of Greenfield, Massachusetts had grown before his death.  A friend of Chambers found some of the sweet corn seeds and sold Burpee seeds of the corn, and in 1902, Golden Bantam was featured in a Burpee catalog.  Before 1900 most people thought that yellow corn was fit only for animals, so in order to change their customers minds, many farmers slipped Golden Bantam corn in with the white corn they were selling.  Within a few years, people in the United States were converted to yellow corn.  Iceberg lettuce was introduced in 1894 and named for its crispness.  A key in Burpee’s business was the 1863 free delivery system, that required post offices to deliver mail to residents’ homes, and in 1896, free delivery was extended to rural areas.  This allowed his catalogs to be delivered directly to people’s homes.  Thousands of letters were received annually from Burpee’s customers thanking him for his seeds.  Burpee knew that the key to his business was advertising and the catalog was his advertising medium.  In his first year of business, his catalog was 48 pages, but by 1915 his catalogs were 200 pages and he distributed a million catalogs. Burpee personally wrote most of the copy of his catalogs.  Burpee set up an advertising department and offered cash prizes for the best advertisements.  This competition is what originated the slogan “Burpee Seeds Grow” in 1890.  The 1891 catalog was the first to feature engravings made from photographs, and by 1901 this process was done by machines.  Burpee’s move to photography changed the whole industry and the hand-drawn illustration in catalogs disappeared.  In another break with tradition, Burpee eliminated cultural information and put in testimonial letters and plant descriptions.   At Atlee’s death in 1915, the company had 300 employees, and it was the largest seed company in the world.  At that time the Burpee company distributed over 1 million catalogs a year and received 10,000 orders a day.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

Currie Bros of Milwaukee Wisconsin 1899 Horticultural Guide

Currie Bros of Milwaukee Wisconsin 1899 Horticultural Guide
CURRIE BROS CO, James Currie Pres, Wm. Currie Vice-Pres, Wm. B Currie, Sec, Roy J. Currie. Treas, Seedsmen, Florists and Nurserymen, 312 Broadway, 108 Wisconsin and corner of 27th and State. 
This firm is the oldest one of the retail and mail order seed houses in the city, for the business was established in 1875. When they first started and for time afterward, floral and horticultural interests predominated They had very extensive greenhouses at the edge of the city, & published a monthly horticuktral newsletter.  In 1903 the firm became known as Currie Bros. Co. and was conducted by the three brothers, James, William and Adam Currie. In 1910 Adam Currie withdrew from the firm. The officers of the firm then were James Currie, president, William Currie, vice-president, William B. Currie, secretary and Roy J. Currie, treasurer. The latter two officers are sons of James and William Currie respectively. Adam Currie & Co.'s seed store does a retail seed and florist business. They also do a general mail order seed business and cater particularly to the northern states. The store has been located here some ten years and enjoys an extensive local trade in flowers, plants and seeds. Allister Currie is associated with his father in the firm, managing the retail part of the business. One brother devotes his time to the office and other crop seeds handled. By the early 1900s, the main Currie Bros. seed store is East Water street in the heart of the retail trade district. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

New Yorker Peter Henderson's Catalog of Seeds, Plants, Bulbs, Tools, & Fertilizers,

New Yorker Peter Henderson's Catalog of Seeds, Plants, Bulbs, Tools, and Fertilizers.  
Peter Henderson, (1822-1890)–New York, NY Henderson was born in Scotland in 1822.  He came to America in 1843, and worked under Grant Thorburn and Robert Buist.  Henderson began as a market gardener in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1847. During the Civil War he moved his floral business to South Bergen. By 1890 he had five acres covered by glass.  Henderson’s contemporaries called him “the father of horticulture and ornamental gardening” in the United States. In 1865, he published Gardening for Profit, the first book written on market gardening in the United States. It sold 100,000 copies. He followed with Practical Floriculture in 1868. In 1871, he established a seed company called Peter Henderson & Company. The company developed vegetables and flowers suited to American conditions. He began a new era of seed trade merchandising by using a five-color lithograph in his catalog. His catalog Everything for the Garden featured a white-haired gentleman. His writing was aimed at teaching good horticultural practices. He recommended gardening as the best therapy for invalids. He dictated all of his writing for his catalog to a secretary, while lying down after work hours. He personally answered every letter he received. In the course of 45 years of business, he sent out 175,000 letters, two-thirds of them were written by his own hand. An account of his life was published by his son Alfred Henderson. He died in Jersey City, New Jersey, on January 17, 1890. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

1898 Vick's Garden & Floral Guide from Rochester, NY

James Vick was born in Portsmouth, England on Nov. 23, 1818.  In 1833, at the age of 12, he arrived in New York City to learn the printing trade.  In 1837, he moved with his parents to Rochester, New York where he set type for several newspapers and journals. 

In 1849, James Vick was elected corresponding secretary of the Genesee Valley Horticultural Society. Vick was associated with the "Genesee Farmer" as a writer and editor from 1849 became owner and publisher in 1855.  With Vick as editor, the publication became more elegant and circulation rapidly increased.  A year later he sold out to Joseph Harris.  On the death of A. J. Downing, James Vick bought "The Horticulturist" and moved it to Rochester in 1853.  It was devoted to horticulture, floriculture, landscape gardening, and rural architecture. About this time, Vick started to grow flowers and then began sending seeds out by mail to the readers of his publication. In 1855 he established a seed store and nursery on East Avenue in Rochester.  In 1856, Vick started "Rural Annual and Horticultural Directory".  The first half was a seed catalog and the second a list of nurserymen.  This was taken over in 1857 by Joseph Harris who continued it until 1867.

With Vick’s knowledge of chromolithography and training as a printer, he produce a catalog and later a monthly magazine.  The first, "Floral Guide and Catalogue" was printed in 1862.  His "Floral Guides" provided gardening advice, quality color prints, and reached a circulation of 250,000.  He entertained his readers with anecdotes, published letters he had received, and had a special section for children. By 1870, his mail was averaging over 3000 letters and over 300 orders a day.  As many as 150,000 catalogs were sent out each year.  A staff of more than 100 worked in the office and packing house.  There were over 75 acres of seed gardens scattered about the city.  In 1876, the catalog offered 46 pages of general gardening information followed by a price list.

In 1878, Vick started a paper, "Vick’s Illustrated Monthly" which was published by the Vick Seed Company in Rochester and in Dansville until 1909.  This magazine was sold by subscription. Vick also printed a set of prints that were either sold or offered as premiums with large orders. Vick was one of the most successful horticultural seedsman, writers, and merchandisers of his day. The Vick Seed Company continued into the 20th century before being sold to the Burpee Seed Co.

Friday, June 2, 2017

1898 C E Allen's Plant and Seed Guide from Brattleboro, Vermont


C. E. Allen's green-house and seed and flower gardens, were located at 64 Canal street in Brattelboro, Vermont. They were established by Allen in 1868. Commencing in a small way, his business has gradually increased until Mr. ALLEN became the largest seed grower and dealer in the state. His hot houses covered an area of nearly half an acre, while he had several acres of strawberries, and twenty acres of land under cultivation. He employed twelve hands, which force, during the berry season, was increased to fifty. From Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windham County, Vt., 1724-1884. Compiled and Published By Hamilton Child, Printed At The Journal Office, Syracuse, N. Y., July, 1884.