I landed on that book in a search for birdseed. The snowy weather and feeding the birds got me started down that rabbit hole. Something tells me this blog's trail is going to look like Winnie the Pooh's as he circled around and around in the snow after the Woozle...except I hopefully will have some straight bits in between the circling around tangents. Digressing, the biggest animal holes I ever saw were woodchuck holes. When I was 7, exploring the edges of a bare bare Pennsylvania cornfield, I came across what looked to me like the Grand Canyon! I guess a woodchuck's underground palace had collapsed.
Back to Holden... It is a good read, believe it or not. I got sucked into it quickly. He writes about what he really knows, filling us in on gossip about Reiche family, first importers of canaries to the US.
While starting their business in Boston and New York, the younger brother, Henry, thought he'd take a load of canaries out to wild California in about 1852. The older brother thought the kid was nuts - however, he went....and made a fortune which allowed the brothers to really expand their business!
Using this wonderful page to calculate the simple purchasing power of the amount mentioned in the book, the kid brought home $163,000 to his older brother Charles. Don't you love stories like that?!
Charles wrote a nice book, really a catalog, to puff their place in the bird biz later on that year that you can download here from Google Books.
In it is this ad :-)
Birdseed....for pets, was a more iffy thing in the early 1800s and before. I get the impression most pet birds were natives and people fed them what was locally thought to be their native seeds. Weed seeds were often the byproduct of various sorts of threshing activities...maybe they were gathered and sold or used locally. I also get the impression bird seed in some old ads is not referring to pet birds. Chambers (below) must have sold it since city people would not have access to gleanings.
I am having trouble finding birdseed history. Do I want to find more or not?...maybe it is time for a coffee break. Here is one of my favorite paintings. My Gram gave me a cage like that but someone (a Philadelphia landlord, I think) stole it. William Merritt Chase is the New England artist. This painting done in 1886.