Friday, October 20, 2017

1892 - Lush Lithograph Showing Why We Plant Tulips

Ah...  how could anyone resist  John Lewis Childs' Fall Bulb Catalog?   We plant them because they can be awesome!

 I love those little dots....

 And just in case, like me, you wonder about the name "Bizard"

A Dictionary of Modern Gardening - Page 671 - Google Books Result
George William Johnson - 1846 - ‎Gardening
It will be observed, that tulips are divided into different classes, and as the characteristics ... A Bizard tulip has a yellow ground, and coloured marks on its petals.

1877 - "Household Elegancies" Made From Seeds

Dreadful, aren't they?   I wonder how many exist today.  I suspect they have fallen prey to mice, or just fallen apart.   But so much work!!  

Then again, as a child and adult project it is rather nice.  Little ones get to admire the beans and keep their hands busy, the adult can finish it off.  In case you don't care to read how to make these, note that fresh beans were used so they are easily pierced by a tapestry needle.  In 1877 fresh beans with interesting patterns were more likely to be available to families. 

 1877 is an interesting time as it is at the starting point in agriculture where fewer people were needed to provide for the growing population due to machinery.  In 1850, more than 60% of people were on the farm.  In 1880 or a bit after it was more like 26% feeding a much larger population.

Household Elegancies: Suggestions in Household Art and Tasteful Home Decorations

By Mrs. C. S. Jones, Henry T. Williams


The following article appeared some years later and explains how to make some of the same items.
At first I thought they were the same illustrations, but they are not.

1884 - The young ladies' treasure book: A complete cyclop√¶dia of practical instruction and direction for all indoor and outdoor occupations and amusements suitable to young ladies

Nut And Seed Work.

THE beauty of some seeds and nuts has caused ingenious persons to form them into objects of use. In pursuing this work, we would advise our friends to purchase many varieties of beans, and cultivate them with a view to appropriating them to fancy work; for of the exceeding beauty of some of these seeds, few persons, comparatively, have the remotest conception. 

Some of them are as beautifully mottled, spotted, marbled, and painted as the most elegant 
I think these are the acorn and white bead chains used to make fern holders.
mosaic-work, while their symmetrical form and highly enameled surface render them well adapted for the purpose of forming chain-work of every description.
 Many nuts, too, such as the horse-chestnut, have shells of such beauty, and capable of taking such a fine polish, that when arranged tastefully they appear like highly finished wood-carvings.

 Acorns may be made the medium of holding ferns in a variety of ways, either in a room, or, still better, in a greenhouse, or small window-garden, opening, perhaps, out of a back parlour or drawing-room.

The acorns are soft when new, and a hole may be readily made by slipping through them a large twine packing-needle. Thread them on wire—a large, round cut white-glass bead between every one.

Vase of Coloured Beans.

A vase we shall here describe may be made of any coloured or sized beans desired; but in selecting the beads which are to be combined with them, care must be taken to produce a tasteful combination.

The beans being soft when newly gathered, holes are easily pierced through them. Thread them through these holes on a wire, with a large round glass bead between each one.

Make first a ring for the bottom of the urn or vase, and another for the top, stringing the beans and beads upon them. The wire should be as thick as a large sized knitting needle. 

After making two circles for the top and bottom, form the sides by turning a hook over on the end of the wire and fastening it to the top ring, between the beans.  Pinch the wire close, with pliers, to conceal the joint. Thread this with the beans, etc., until it is sufficiently long to form the ribs of the vase, as shown in Fig. at A; to cross at the narrow part, to form the swelling part of the vase, B, and fasten again to the lower ring. This wire is then cut off with "tin-shears," and the other part formed in the same way, and both are then crossed by another, diagonally. 

If the urn is large, there may be two of these on each side, making six equal sides to the urn instead of four. Where they cross at the narrow part of the vase, bind them well together with fine zephyr or thread. These bindings must not show, and fine thread-wire is better than other material for fastening.

 Bend the six pieces into proper shape, by giving a regular and graceful curve ; join the wire to one of them, and carry it round the widest part of the urn, joining it with fine wire to every part where it crosses. Next put in the upper Vandykes, fastening the strung wires as before. The handles are rings of the beans and beads attached to each side, as shown in the illustration.

The beans should be of uniform size for each separate part, and the same number between each corresponding division; for instance, the bottom ring may contain thirty large beans, and the central circle fifty of medium size; then the divisions reaching between these should contain small ones, perhaps, but they must be alike in size and number. So also the Vandykes. 

Fill the vase with moss, green side out, and pack soil in the centre, in which plant ferns, etc. The effect of the moss against the beautifully coloured basket is lovely, and the crystal beads glisten out of the green like so many dew-drops.

 On page 139 (the above hanging fern basket) we show a hanging basket made of the nuts of the acorn, arranged in a similar manner. The acorn-nut should be held in the cup by means of the wire, and the beads for this should be either the crystal or opaque white, and of the size of a pea. Handles, made of rings of wire, are first strung with the acorns and beads, from which tassels of beads depend; one is also arranged at the bottom, and from the supports at the point where the three are joined.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

1892 - Litho Surfing on a John Lewis Childs' Fall Bulb Catalog

You can't beat a lithographed catalog for luxuriant surfaces.

Your attention can slide down the sweeps of color, twirl around a curlicue, and wipe out with a plop in the center of a blossom! 

Love it!!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

1891 - All Hail King Pumpkin


What can I say?  
The poet's own phrase "necromancy keen" sort of sums this poem up!

Good Housekeeping - 1891

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

1899 - Edgar Allan Poe and Pumpkin Pie

These bits and pieces turned up when I was looking for pumpkin pie poems.  
  They belong together!     


1891 - Edgar Allan Poe: His Life, Letters, and Opinions, By John Henry Ingram

Unattributed poem
and I forget where I found it! 

Monday, October 16, 2017

1887 - A Mother's Memories of Pumpkin Seed Craft for Little People

I enjoyed reading Clarissa Potter's memories of her childhood at the end of the instructions. Being a little "maker" is the natural state of children,  unfortunately parents flood them with pre-made stuff.  Kids don't know better when they fall for ads.  The fact kids love Legos so deeply shows their little clever souls are yearning to create their own things. Better than nothing!  but not as good as poking around and finding your own building materials.  

... A bag of dried pumpkin seeds holds resources of solid enjoyment for the little people who are experts in stringing buttons and beads, and can count. 

The forehanded, good man of our house and fields always dries and stores away many more such seeds than he possibly can use in planting time, and he knows it, so he makes no complaint when the children have a saucer of pumpkin seeds about, of which they are making mats and baskets. 

The oddest table mat I ever saw was made of a circle of paste board covered and bound with stout, bright flannel, and on the flannel were sewed scores, yes, hundreds of small, white, earthen buttons arranged in circles about the outer edge of the card board, and within in wild confusion. Next in oddness is one of pumpkin seeds, and children in the home, of both first and second childhood, enjoy making both mats.

To make a mat of pumpkin seeds, string at their points, on stout linen thread, nineteen seeds resting on their sides; draw snugly into a circle and fasten and break thread. Between each of these nineteen bases, string the points of two seeds. Again draw into a circle and tie thread. Between each of these nineteen pairs of bases string at their points three seeds; draw close and secure thread as before.

So far, mat and basket of pumpkin seeds are made alike. If the work is for a mat, continue increasing one seed to those strung at their points and placed between the bases of each succeeding circle. If you find the mat is rufiiing, getting fulness too fast, omit increasing the number of seeds strung at points for a row or more, to insure a smooth, flat mat. Finish outer row with a stout thread run through bases of pumpkin seeds, and then wind edge with a bright ribbon passed over and between the groups of seeds.

A pumpkin seed basket is made by continuing stringing seeds in triplets between bases of each preceding row till three rows are made besides the row of double seeds placed between the bases of the nineteen seeds of the first circle. This forms a flat base for basket with rounded sides.

A pretty bail is made by stringing on two wires, face to face, thirty-eight seeds; wires to run through bases and points, alternately, till a flat web is made the width of a pumpkin seed’s length. Fasten ends of bail wires to opposite edges of basket and then wind between each pair of seeds on edges of handle—the windings not to come opposite —-with narrow ‘ribbon. Finish basket with pretty ribbon knots placed over points where handle is fastened to basket.

In that bright, glad time of “when I was a little child,” we built ingenious houses and laid out: famous grounds with acorn cups and saucers, from which I think we derived more pleasure than children nowadays can from their patented, smartly painted building blocks. Acorn cups standing on their bases was our building material; the soft, warm hearth rug before the dining-room’s open fire, as near as possible to mother’s rocker, was our field of quiet enjoyment.

We grouped the acorns in a big square for the outer walls of the ground floor of our house, then filled in partition walls, leaving loop-holes for doors to our double parlors and cozy kitchen and bedrooms, with narrow walks between two long acorn rows for halls and corridors. Similar long, winding lanes led to our capacious barns and outbuilding, with cunning gateways opening into farm yards and outer fields. They were made of little cedar posts that would stand upright on their smoothly whittled bases, with lengths of tough rye straw for bars that needed continual letting down and putting up that the cattle might pass.

Watering troughs we had along every driveway and fence and wall. Flat-bottomed acorn saucers they were, filled with water. And our cattle ? Well, they were queer little blocks of cedar, with rounded heads and rumps, and four fat legs that were as uneven as the stanchions of broken-headed darning needles stuck in the floor, to which our cattle were tethered by means of a cotton thread looped round their chunky necks.

We then thought that it was the happy game, the cozy fire, the warm, bright sunshine fiecking the carpet that made the room so sunny and pleasant and our play and life so rich with happiness, but we know now, after all these long years, that it was mother’s presence, our nearness to her, and our safe trust in her for everything that made our child life so full of
comfort and sunshine.        — Clarissa Potter.

Clarissa Potter wrote for magazines.  She wrote about how to care for children as well as stories like this.

1890 - A Morality Tale with a Muskmelon Bag and a Happy Ending

This classic 19th century morality tale centered around a muskmelon seed bag was written in 1890 by a 14 year old girl, Adele R. Miller, of Mahwah, N.J.    

I looked her up and found this :-)    Her grandfather was the inventor of the Miller Platform Coupler and Buffer  (trains).   

Following the tale is an article describing how the muskmelon seed bags were made.  It places the peak of melon seed bag fancy work around 1850, by my calculations.  


It was fall. In the magnificent sitting room of the wealthy Mrs. Symes, sat Grace, her only grandchild, eighteen years of age, and very pretty. She had been embroidering a silk handkerchief, but now as she looks at the clock her work falls from her hands and she jumps up exclaiming;

"Why! It is four o'clock and grandma is not home yet. Something must be the matter. I will go and see."

Just as she is putting on her hat, her grandmother, a stately old lady with pure white hair, enters, looking very much excited.

"Grace ! Grace! come here child, I have lost my melon bag and all that money I was to take to the bank."

"Grandma, you do not mean your tin money-box?"

"Yes, yes, child. What shall I do? It was a small fortune, all the money I received for rents to-day from Johnson, $1,500, and my melon bag that your dear mother made for me a short time before she died."

"But how did you come to lose it?"

"Well, you see I don't know exactly myself, for I did not miss it until I reached the bank."

"Do you suppose some one cut it from off your arm?"

"No! I did not meet any one. The road was very muddy and I had to keep going from one side to the other to avoid the puddles and I suppose I lost it then. I have hired men to search the road and have offered a large reward for it in the papers."

A month having passed and not hearing anything of the bag and box of money, Mrs. Symes gave up the search and started with Grace, whose health was not very good, for the south to spend the winter.

It is spring now and the flowers are beginning to open and the trees have put on their leaves.

Mrs. Symes and Grace have returned from the south with renewed health. Nothing has been heard of the money and the people have ceased to talk about it.

On the road to the village, a short distance in the woods, stands a dilapidated hut. There is only one room in this building, and that contains but little furniture. An old straw mattress serves for a bed, and a soap box for a chair, on which widow Ross, careworn and sick, with her three-months' old babe in her arms sits, while her bright little boy of ten, stands with his arm around her neck, saying in a brave sweet voice: "Never mind, mother dear, I will go and earn some money and take care of baby Hope and you, for since the cruel fire killed my father and destroyed all we had, and you nearly lost your life from exposure and want, you have no one to depend on but me." He then kissed her and went out.

As the little boy, Guy Ross, by name, entered the village, his heart failed him, for he sees no chance for a boy of his tender age in that bustling place. But on he goes, wiping the tears from his eyes with his ragged coat sleeve. He wanders over all the streets without meeting a kind face, or getting any thing to do, nor even so much as a crust of bread, for he was too proud to beg and he turns his face with a heavy heart towards home. Just before he reaches the path which bears off the road to his house, he noticed a vine growing by the wayside. Guy examined it and found it to be a muskmelon vine.

"Ah!" said he, "I will take it home and when it bears melons, I can sell them in the village. But till then? Oh! the good Lord will take care of us and feed us, as papa said when he was dying."

He then began digging around the plant with his hands. Soon he struck something hard which he thought to be a rock.

"Poor little plant,'' said Guy, as he put his hand under the roots and lifted it out of the ground, "I will plant you in a better place than this, and where there are no rocks."

On looking into the hole, he saw not a rock, but a rusty tin box.

"Why! this must be somebody's tobacco box. I'll take it home and plant my vine in it"

He lifted the box out of the earth,

when lo and behold! there in the bottom of the hole was a dirty piece of blue satin, covered on one side with muskmelon seeds and rusty steel beads.

Guy, satisfying himself that there was nothing more, started home to show them to his mother.

On arriving at the house he ran in calling "Mama! mama! see what I have found!"

"Let me see it," said she wearily, taking it from him.

"Is this all you have got? Could you get no work, dear?"

"No, mama, but I ." He got no

further, for his mother who had been rubbing the rust off the box with an old rag, suddenly exclaimed: "Why, Guy, just look, this seems to be a tin bank, and here," she continued, "is a plate, with a name on it, and the box is locked. Try if you can make out the name, Guy."

"Let's see," said Guy. "S-y-m-e-s, Symes." He stood and looked at his mother and she at him. They were both so surprised. At length Mrs. Ross managed to say: "Where did you find it dear?" Then Guy told her all about it.

"Well, I do declare, I really believe it is Mrs. Symes' money that she lost. You remember the money that your father spent so much time looking for?" exclaimed Mrs. R., as Guy finished. "Oh, yes, and papa said that a large reward was offered for it in the papers."

"Yes, dear, I think this must be it. Come, let me brush off your clothes with the broom and then you go and wash your face and hands in the brook, while I wrap the box in a piece of newspaper."

Guy obeyed and soon came in again.

"There," said his mother, "now go to Mrs. Symes' house and ask for her. Tell her all you know about the box and how you came to find it, and most probably she will give you a reward."

Mrs. Ross kissed him tenderly and watched his manly little figure until it disappeared from her view.

As for Guy he ran as fast as his short legs could carry him and soon reached Mrs. Symes' house. He timidly rang the door bell, and when the butler, in livery, opened the door, he asked for Mrs. Symes. He was ushered into the hall and told to wait there a few minutes, as "my lady" is dressing. She came down soon, however, and as she saw Guy, said in a pleasant voice: "Well, my little man, did you want to see me?"

 "Yes, ma'am," answered Guy, "I want to know if this is yours?" 
"Why !" said the old lady, astonished, "this is my money box !" and taking a little key from her watch chain she tried it to the lock and the lid sprang open. "Well, of all the wonders," began Mrs. Symes, and then addressing Guy again, continued, "where did you get this, and how did you find it?" 
So Guy told her all about finding the vine by the road-side and how, on digging it up to take home, found the box and part of the old bag."Well, you deserve a reward. Have you any relatives and what is your name?"
 "My name is Guy Ross, I have a mother and baby sister. Papa was hurt in the big fire last winter and died soon after. We are very poor," he concluded, "and mama and I are nearly starved. We live in that hut on the S road.''

"Poor little thing! James! Bring some lunch right away for this honest boy, and then be sure and take a large basket of good things down to that house on the S road for Mrs. Ross. This boy will show you the way after he has had his lunch." "Now, my good boy," she said, as Guy was leaving the house, "tell your mother to come up to-morrow, I want to see her and have a talk about business." "Good night, dear kind lady," replied Guy, and then, accompanied by the butler, with a heavy basket on his arm, Guy walked rapidly home with a lighter heart than he had had since his father died.

The following Monday we find Mrs, Ross installed as housekeeper in the great mansion of Mrs. Symes, and preparations were being made to send Guy away to a boarding school at Mrs. Symes' expense.

Mrs. Symes did not take the money found in the old box, but put it in a savings bank for Guy, for as she told his mother "such a good and honest boy well deserves it."

Mrs. Symes, in thinking it over after the excitement of the finding of the bag and money, came to this conclusion: The bag must have fallen from her arm where the ground was very soft and sinking into the mud. disappeared from sight. Then, in the spring, a single melon seed that was not injured in the making of the bag, sprouted and grew there until found by Guy.

Adele R. Miller.

Mahwah, N. J., March, 1890.

[Our little authoress is only fourteen years old. We think the story remarkably good for one so young.—Ed.]

The following is another melon seed article from 1893. 


The old-fashioned melon seed and bead work of our great-grandmothers has been revived. This work is done with horse hair or silk and a needle. The only preparation necessary is to spread the seeds on a dish and allow them to dry. 

Cucumber seeds are the ornament chosen for a small work bag made of a piece of satin, twelve inches long by fourteen broad. It is gathered firmly together at the bottom and has a heading nearly two inches deep at the top. 

A string of twenty seeds, each separated with a steel bead, forms the foundation of the net, whose divisions extend in rays. In the second row two seeds with a steel bead in the middle are threaded between two in the first, and so on until the ninth row, two seeds are always threaded between the two of the lower row, the number of the beads being increased by one every row. 
The bottom of the bag and the ends of the draw strings are finished off with tassels made of beads and seeds.   
1893 - Health and Home - A Monthly Journal of Health and Domestic Economy