Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Seed catalogue archives tell interesting stories...

Ive had a huge time in the studio of late... so posting here has been all too rare.

This morning I came across these seed catalogues from US Archives from as early as 1823... and it got me thinking and off I went on a whole lot of tangents....

Linnaean Garden, William Prince Catalogue of American Trees, Plants, & Seeds
Linnaean Garden, William Prince
Catalogue of American Trees, Plants, & Seeds

Flushing, Long Island, NY

Peter Henderson & Co.'s Manual of Everything for the Garden
Peter Henderson & Co.'s Manual of Everything for the Garden
New York, NY

Japanese Nursery and Seed Trade Catalogs 
Special Collections of the National Agricultural Library houses a wide variety of seed catalogs from Japan from 1892-1955. Many of the Japanese seed catalogs in the collection were produced by the Yokohama Seed Company, Ltd., which was a consortium of Japanese nursery owners who worked together to export seeds and plants from the 1890s through the early 1920s. The catalogs are treasured for their artistic beauty and are still used by researchers today as evidence of the Japanese seed trade at the turn of the last century. The following catalogs have been digitized in their entirety. Click on a thumbnail to view the englarged image and navigate through each page of the catalog.
Iris Kaempferi 18 Best Var.
The Yokohama Nursery Co., Ltd.

Published: Japan
Date: n.d.

Iris Kaempferi 18 Best Var., n.d., The Yokohama Nursery Co., Ltd., Page 5

Lilies of Japan, 1899, The Yokohama Nursery Co., Ltd., Page 3
The Yokohama Nursery Co., Ltd., 1914, Front Cover

FROM WIKI - Pomology (from Latin pomum (fruit) + -logy) is a branch of botany that studies and cultivates pome fruit, particularly from the genera MalusPrunus and Pyrusbelonging to the Rosaceae. The term is sometimes applied more broadly, to the cultivation of any type of fruit. In the latter case, the denomination fruticulture—introduced from romance languages (from Latin fructus and cultura) —is also used.
Pomological research is mainly focused on the development, cultivation and physiological studies of stone fruit trees. The goals of fruit tree improvement include enhancement of fruit quality, regulation of production periods, and reduction of production cost.
Pomology has been an important area of research for centuries. During the mid-19th century in the United States, farmers were expanding fruit orchard programs in response to growing markets. At the same time, horticulturists from the USDA and agricultural colleges were bringing new varieties to the United States from foreign expeditions, and developing experimental lots for these fruits. In response to this increased interest and activity, USDA established the Division of Pomology in 1886 and named Henry E. Van Deman as chief pomologist. An important focus of the division was to publish illustrated accounts of new varieties and to disseminate research findings to fruit growers and breeders through special publications and annual reports. During this period Andrew Jackson Downingand his brother Charles were prominent in Pomology and Horticulture, producing The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America (1845).[1]
The introduction of new varieties required exact depiction of the fruit so that plant breeders could accurately document and disseminate their research results. Since the use of scientific photography was not widespread in the late 19th Century, USDA commissioned artists to create watercolor illustrations of newly introduced cultivars. Many of the watercolors were used for lithographic reproductions in USDA publications, such as the Report of the Pomologist and theYearbook of Agriculture.
Today, the collection of approximately 7,700 watercolors is preserved in the National Agricultural Library's Special Collections,[2] where it serves as a major historic and botanic resource to a variety of researchers, including horticulturists, historians, artists, and publishers.
One involved in the science of Pomology is called a Pomologist. The science of Pomology has somewhat dwindled over the past century, with the number of accredited Pomologists at less than 200 worldwide, 12 of whom are in the US.

The USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection documents fruit and nut varieties developed by growers or introduced by USDA plant explorers around the turn of the 20th century. Technically accurate paintings were used to create lithographs illustrating USDA bulletins, yearbooks, and other series distributed to growers and gardeners across America. 

Fast Facts:
  • Time period: 1886 to 1942, with the majority created between 1894 and 1916.
  • Content: 7,584 watercolor paintings, lithographs and line drawings, including 3,807 images of apples.
  • Fruit origins: The plant specimens illustrated originated in 29 countries and 51 states and territories in the U.S.
  • Fruit_watercolorsArtists: The paintings were created by approximately twenty-one artists commissioned by USDA for this purpose. Some works are not signed.
  • Reproductions: NAL can provide, for a fee, high quality prints and digital files of the images. Please refer to the "Buy Rare and Special Collections Products.".

Punica granatum: Pomegranate

Arnold, Mary Daisy, ca. 1873-1955
Scientific name:
Punica granatum
Common name:
Physical description:
1 art original : col. ; 17 x 25 cm.
Notes on original:
From fruit stand
Date created:
Use of the images in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection is not restricted, but a statement of attribution is required. Please use the following attribution statement: "U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705"

Two interesting stories come with these catalogues found at EDIBLE ETHICS TUMBLR. 

2. D. Landreth Seed Company

The recent troubles of the D. Landreth Seed Company, America’s oldest seed companies, were documented by my TreeHugger colleague, Colleen, in the post encouraging you to help save one of America’s Heirloom, Non-GMO Seed Houses.
The company’s financial situation is getting stronger and they’re still a good source of seeds. In particular, their African American Seed Collection, which highlights the culinary history and contributions to American cuisine by the African Diaspora.
Print Catalog: Yes. $5.00. Online ordering: Yes.

3. Kitazawa Seed Company

The Kitazawa Seed Company was founded in 1917 by Gijiu Kitazawa in a storefront located in downtown San Jose, California. The business was shut down from 1942 to 1945 due to WWII and the family’s internment in Relocation Camps.
After the war the seed company was reopened, but by then many of the company’s customers had relocated across the United States and the company started mailing seeds across America to their customers. Today Kitazawa is a source for many fine Asian varieties of vegetables and herbs. Their simple seed catalog is a pleasant contrast to the glossy and ornate seed catalogs you’re accustomed to and even provides recipes so you can prepare dishes from your harvest.

As for finding catalogues from other parts of the world... I found that a challenge.

Via here
I'll look out for catalogues from other countries... and if you find any... do send word.


Velma said...

sophie, here in the states, the shakers are supposed to have invented the seed envelope, and to have pioneered seed distribution for gardeners, theri motto "hands to work, hearts to god" led to many innovetions. here's one article: http://statebystategardening.com/state.php/la/articles/seeds_of_simplicity_the_shaker_seed_industry/

Sophie Munns said...

Brilliant link Velma... have just posted it on my Facebook page...
so pleased you saw this and send a link... thank you!
ps We perhaps have less of a widely practised tradition here I think then you do with seed catalogues. I have friends who order form catalogues...but have heard many US Bloggers discuss ordering seeds. Our population was much smaller and we tend to buy seed from stores rather than order them.

Velma said...

and the shakers used to peddle them, door to door, but mail order is such an american thing!

Sophie Munns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sophie Munns said...

I know many immigrants in this country would bring seeds with them.. or go back later and do so.. Have heard stories of greek people bringing back seeds for their whole community... and can well imagine that playing out across the various ethnicities.

manutd said...

Very interesting story

manutd said...

Very interesting story

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