Friday, April 11, 2014

1893 - Seven Seedsman at the Columbian Exposition

Yesterday's post  mentioned briefly how E. W. Conklin, Seedman, had won 7 prizes at the Columbian Exposition.  I started poking around and found these nifty stereo views (below),
 and more to the theme of this blog, news of which seedsman had decided to display and compete. 

World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Ill., 1893, Volume 1 had the following report on "Class 180", which was "General display of flower and vegetable, seeds by seed houses or growers.".

Two things jumped out at me from this.  That the writer saw fit to note the use of seed packets with a picture of the flower or plant that would be grown from that packages' seeds...and the cental system.  I thought at first that Google's OCR was playing games with the word central. is a system of weight I never heard of and which has quite a history of political machinations around its use.  I found an interesting piece about it in a New Orleans newspaper from 1867 that is at the bottom of this post. 

The following is from the 1893 Exposition publication...

Coming back to the chief class 180, general display of flower and vegetable seeds by seed houses or growers, we have to regret also here that the number of exhibitions was not greater.   D. M. Ferry Co., of Detroit, Mich.,  the largest seed house in the United States,Atlee Burpee & Co., Philadelphia, of nearly the same importance, and the Steele Briggs Marcon Company, Limited, Toronto, the largest seed house in Canada, had not  exhibited. 

 The catalogue names from the United States only 7,  but among these 7 were some of the greatest houses of the Union— Henry A. Dreer, Philadelphia; Peter Henderson & Co., New York; Pitcher & Mandu, Shorthills, N. J., and Y. C. Vaughan, Chicago.  Peter Henderson & Co. also had exhibited in a grand style in the agricultural building, where still another great house, Albert Dickinson & Co., Chicago, and further Vilmorin, Andrieux Cie., from Paris,  had exposed their great collections.
There were still some other exhibitions of which we will speak first.  W. Buckbee, Rockford seed farms, Illinois, had arranged his collection in a very pretty manner; all seeds were in pretty, large, green or red silk bags on a terrace, with a large mirror behind and a brass liar before, a book with the request, "Please write your address, to get a catalogue" lying out.  This latter is a very common custom in America, which should be more frequently accepted in Germany.  H. W. Buckbee especially grows vegetable seeds, onions being the principal, but also cabbage and sugar corn. Of course it would not have well been possible to exhibit flower seeds in such quantities, but the public did not miss them, and the great quantities of vegetables in the pretty bags attracted it very much.
The Michigan Seed Company, South Haven, Mich., exhibited in a smaller style about 115 flower and vegetable seeds. Their specialties are beans and radishes.
G. Barteldes & Co., Lawrence, Kans., had exhibited vegetable and grass seeds in large bags.   Some of the grass seeds were not quite clean;  the whole samples were true samples of the commerce, not extra made up for the Exposition.
Henry A. Dreer, Philadelphia, has one of the greatest horticultural businesses in the East. Not only seeds, but also a great many plants, especially palms, azaleas, carnations, ferns, etc., are grown in, the establishment out of town at Riverton, beyond the Delaware, in New Jersey, comprising 180 acres with forty-four greenhouses," while in the store, 714 Chestnut street,  Philadelphia, seeds, bulbs, and also implements are sold.   

In Chicago Mr. Dreer made a fine display, especially of vegetable seeds, etc., and his collection of implements was one of the best of all. The business was established in 1838. In 1883 Mr. Dreer had a quarter of an acre of sweet pease, employed 35 persons, and shipped 15,000 packages; in 1893 he had 6 acres of sweet pease,  employed 70 persons, and shipped 70,000 packages. The firm is now incorporated, and its president is Mr. William F. Dreer, the son of the founder.
Peter Henderson & Co., New York, the greatest house of that city, the eldest of all North America, and well renowned in thewhole world, had brought most sacrifices of all American seedsmen. As has already been mentioned, they had not only exhibited in the horticultural, but also in the agricultural building, and in both places in a highly attractive manner for the public. For our purpose it may suffice to describe the exhibition in the horticultural building. In the middle of a large pavilion stood the model of their warehouse, 35 Cortland Street, New York; around were placed large vessels with vegetable and grass seeds, and the pretty little paper bags with flower seeds, the whole decorated by exact models of the best vegetables, etc., by colored plates, figures, etc.

 Also several books were exposed, for Mr. Henderson is one of the rare gardeners who not only do practical work, but who understand how to spread their knowledge by popular publications.
So we found: Henderson's Gardening for Pleasure, second edition. 1892; Henderson's Handbook of Plants, second edition; Practical Floriculture, fourth edition, out of which we learn that in New York there are 500 florists with $6,000,000 capital—in several businesses more than $100,000; Henderson's Garden and Farm Topics, 1884; How the Farm Pays, by Henderson and William Crozier, 1884; at last, Henderson's Gardening for Profit, 1891, in which he says that a gardener must have a tleast $1,500 to $2,000 capital, and then not more than 2 acres, either bought or ten years on lease.

It is highly interesting to see Henderson's numerous greenhouses in Jersey City Heights, N. J., where there are cultivated roses in assortments (here mostly in pots what elsewhere is rare in America), chrysanthemums, palms, vines, etc. They also have large trial grounds in Hackensack. The business of Peter Henderson & Co. was founded by Peter Henderson in 1847 and incorporated in 1890, Alfred Henderson being president; Charles Henderson, vice-president and treasurer; Robert Liddell, secretary. I

n 1883 they had about 100 persons; in 1893, 200. How great the correspondence is follows by the single fact that in 1894 in one day of the chief season they received 4,000 letters and postal communications. Their specialties in garden seeds are cabbage, celery, cauliflower, pease, and beans. One variety of extra early pease alone takes 1,000 to 1,200 acres to produce enough for their trade annually during the past three years.
The Michigan Seed Company, South Haven, Mich., exhibited in a smaller style about 115 flower and 150 vegetable seeds.Their specialties beans and radishes.
Pitcher & Manda, Shorthills, N. J., is that grand horticultural establishment to which the World's Fair Commission is much indebted, for they have contributed in store plants more than any other house, and without their huge tree ferns, their orchids, and other plants, renewed the whole summer, the horticultural building would have lacked some of its most attractive features. It is a delight to see their vast establishment in Shorthills. Nowhere in America can one see such a variety of plants and flowers, indoors and outdoors; even nursery articles are to be found there. But we have to do here only with the seeds they exhibited, and this collection consisted of about 2,000 flower seeds, etc., in small paper bags as they are in use now in nearly all businesses, each having a colored figure of the flower which will come from the seed.
J. C. Vaughan, Chicago, is one of the greatest firms in the Central States, having office and warehouse at 146 and 145 Washington street; retail store at 88 State Street; greenhouses, plant, and bulb grounds at Western Springs, Ill., near Chicago, and finally a branch establishment at 22 Barclay street, New York, where all European shipments are received.  Mr. Vaughan was the horticulturist who saved the honor of Chicago itself in the floricultural department, for although there are so many florists in that city, most of them did not participate at the Exposition. Mr. Vaughan showed especially cannas in the choicest varieties, many of them not yet in commerce, gained by the celebrated raiser, Mr. Crozy, at Lyon. But Mr. Vaughan also made a grand display in seeds and his pavilion was a worthy counterpart to that of Messrs. Henderson & Co., New York.  Seeds of all kinds, vegetable and flower seeds, grass seeds, etc., in vessels of different forms, large and small ones tilled the middle and the sides,  and a good decoration was produced by living flowers. Mr. Vaughan had the great advantage to be nearest to the Fair, and he had in the person of a young lady a representative all the time, which would have been too expensive for the other houses.
The Albert Dickinson Company, Chicago, had not exhibited in the horticultural hall, but in a fine manner in the agricultural building. They handle chiefly field seeds—clovers, lucerne, timothy, and the natural grasses of that country; also linseed. Of the latter they sold, during the past five years, probably 1,500,000 bushels per year. The dealer of field seeds, especially in America, can not do like the dealer in garden seeds; he can not have seeds grown, except in special instances, exclusively for him. The territory and the quantities handled being so extremely large, it would be impossible to contract growing. So, also, the Albert Dickinson Company buys seeds in the open market or from country shippers. Most of the seeds they sell are raised in that country, the same as grain crops. The quantities of seed handled in the Chicago market exceed any market in the world, especially in timothy seed. The Albert Dickinson Company also prepared tables of equivalent quotations on clovers and grass seeds as reduced from standard bushel to cental system and cental system to bushel. They commend the change to the cental system, but they should not have stopped half way; they should have promoted the use of 100 kilograms instead of 100 pounds English.  God bless the day when England and the United States shall adopt the metric system in weights and measures.

These are stereo views of the inside of the Agricultural Building at the Columbian Exposition.  I have also posted large versions below so you can enjoy the detail.   This first one appears to be before the exhibitors have moved into the booths.

Is this the Liberty Bell made with apples?


What is in the bottles the Maids of Honor are guarding?

 I still can't tell what is in the bottles. Wine?  Booze?

Cool link: 

The World's Fair as Seen in One Hundred Days: Containing a Complete History of the World's Columbian Exposition...Description of Chicago, Its Wonderful Buildings, Parks, Etc (Google eBook) - Henry Davenport Northrop, 1893  (This links to an illustration of a wonderful Wardian case!!!)