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.

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