Saturday, July 5, 2014

Livingston's History, Plus Phlox Drummondi and Pansies for 1910

It is such a nice day outside here in Connecticut I could not just post text heavy history at the top of the page  ...interesting as it may be to you or me.  
(I have even placed a huge version of this flower litho at the end so you can wallow in the flowers!)  
The article below from a 1910 issue of American Florist magazine is of interest because it mentions the acreage acquired over time...plus has good photos of the Livingstons.  

A larger version of the next article for easier reading is at the end.





Friday, July 4, 2014

1892 - Asparagus Troops



Asparagus Engraving, A. W. Livingston's Sons
This asparagus engraving is great looking.  Can't be beat.  So sez me.
Wish it was in focus...




Thursday, July 3, 2014

1906 - Livingston Seed Co.: Be Still My Heart


Summer! 
 This is a 1906 Livingston's Seeds catalog.
This sweet pepper is the vegetable equivalent of a Henry Miller novel.
You wouldn't know that inside, by this time, dull photo illustrations had almost replaced the sprightly engravings inside the catalog.  



I just love this green.
!


This is rather overstating the matter as applied to seed catalogs, but I do look for that special life affirming page within them :-)

"I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it: we must search for fragments, splinters, toenails, anything that has ore in it, anything that is capable of resuscitating the body and soul. It may be that we are doomed, that there is no hope for us, any of us, but if that is so then let us set up a last agonizing, bloodcurdling howl, a screech of defiance, a war whoop! Away with lamentation! Away with elegies and dirges! Away with biographies and histories, and libraries and museums! Let the dead eat the dead. Let us living ones dance about the rim of the crater, a last expiring dance. But a dance!"
                      Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, 1934

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Telephone Peas?! 1893


Telephone Peas!     The 1893 analog of 1969 Jet Star tomato? 
The Livingston's Sons catalog page describing Telephone Peas is below this Heroine engraving.

  
Actually, it was the Heroine Pea that first got my attention.  This is the sort of engraving that makes my heart go pitter-pat!    And in a tip of the hat to my cantaloupe loving husband, below is the colorful back cover featuring a Nutmeg melon variety.                 
                                                                                        
Cantaloupes became popular after the Civil War even though they had been around since the 1700s. 
Yummy looking illustration!  And I don't like cantaloupe. 


I know when they are ripe when the house smells like garbage...something about the taste and smell pushes negative reaction smell buttons in my nose.




Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Big Purple Dreams

Which page is most expressive of the exemplary features of "a most delicious vegetable"?

This first one from the 1898 Livingston's Sons seed catalog?


 Or this page from the dreary 1899 Livingston's Seeds catalog? :-)


Stacking the deck is fun :-)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Next Year, 1900, Life Returns!

Phew!  Someone saw the light.  One year after the drab eviscerated corn adorned the back cover came this collection back there. 
 The cover is an unambiguous celebration of the Livingston's Seed new tomato, Magnus!  Notice the twine trying to hold up the heavy truss of fruit?
The onion and parsley are printed with only two colors I think.  Nice, very nice, for the money. 

The other day I showed you the fantastic carrot engraving.  This radish illustration is a similar, though less whimsical, production.      
It makes it easy for you to compare features.  It is a clear presentation of useful information.

Confession: I am a sucker for ribbon labels :-)

While I am in my catalog critique mood, look at this illustration of the Magnus tomato from inside the catalog.   Pathetic, isn't it?  This catalog is straddling the engraving/photo illustration divide.

They must have seen this is so much less inviting than the engravings.

I suppose having the company seen as forward thinking, using photography, was more important.

The catalog used both in 1900.

Tomatoes are not the easiest vegetable to represent in a catalog without color.  Especially as men like A.W. Livingston bred them to be smooth, featureless globes. 

 Below is an earlier engraving.  I find it much more lively.  Their plumpness just plumps at you!  The perky little calyx look like crowns.
More tomorrow...probably straying into tomato land, but maybe not.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Livingston's: Lush to Lifeless

Compare this catalog cover to yesterday's farmer.  This one is sad.  It is a nice idea, Norman Rockwell-ish...but the artist killed it.  Dead.  The farmer yesterday was stiff, but upbeat because of the Victorian embellishments and color!  Today, the story that should draw you in is squashed by the awkward draftsmanship and the color.  The kid in this one looks weird.  Yuck.  
Good idea, though!  
Something happened in the reorganization when the name changed from Livingston's Sons to Livingston's Seeds.

Importantly, however, this cover reflects a big step towards 20th century style illustration on the part of the artist at a time visual embellishment was still holding its own!  (Not that I welcome a less "flowery" style in seed catalogs...) Inside, the deathly b&w photos of vegies are beginning to appear among the more lively engravings as well.


Let's compare the joie of the 1898 and 1899 back covers.

Here is the back cover that goes with the above 1899 farmer.
It looks like a morgue photo.  Makes its point well, if you don't fall asleep before getting there.


Here is the back cover from 1898!  Stiff, perhaps, but far from dead! 


I think I will back up in time and wallow in some more exuberant illustrations.