Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lazy Wife's Pole Beans!

Miss Mary Martin...a seedswoman in the tradition of the
other Misses I posted about earlier.

I thought I had done something on Miss Mary, but I can't find it so here is...perhaps again, but there are some fun extras here this time.
I found a very interesting anecdote about the Lazy Wife's Beans which is worth reading if you grow pole beans!! You can still buy seeds; at Amishland Heirloom Seeds, for one.

"This is an old bean intoduced by German immigrants in the United States about 1810. It is one of our oldest beans to be documented. It got its name because it was one of the first beans to be "stringless", a real boon to the busy housewives of the day. It is very prolific and sets its beans in clusters that are easy to pick, another "lazy" thing that makes it great." 

I like her earliest portrait.  The photos on the later catalogs look sort of odd -snooty, standoffish - too well dressed?

Speaking of photos, these catalogs are still mostly engraved plates (which I love) but, horror! she has a handful of nasty blurry photos in the 1900s catalogs. Yuck.

Miss Mary Martin does have wonderful illustrations usually...some examples are below.

artist, A. Blanc, who did the Christmas Orchid had a great time.
I looked him up and found this ad.

These two have  style.  I don't see any signature.  Miss Mary had an eye for friendly engravings.

These ads were in magazines... the first one is more widely known now as KUDZU!!!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Proofs for a Ferry Seed Packet

This is a wonderful find from Ebay if you are
interested in how things made. ..seed packets in particular. 

The Ebay description was as follows:
"This is a genuine original one of a kind progressive proof book used by stone litho printers to check the quality of each stone and it’s functions! This is from the files of Calvert Litho, one of the highest quality lithographers at the turn of the century.

Calvert was the most expensive lithographer in the country, but Mr. Ferry was a proud man and probably wanted the best in everything, especially his own products! ...
Surprisingly clean for a progressive proof book kept in the back room of a printing shop with all 13 pages intact! Approximate size: 6” x 8”."

Before you scroll down, estimate how many colors were used to give the above effect!

from Wikipedia: Chromolithography is a method for making multi-colour prints. ... The initial technique involved the use of multiple lithographic stones, one for each colour, and was still extremely expensive when done for the best quality results. Depending on the number of colours present, a chromolithograph could take months to produce, by very skilled workers. However much cheaper prints could be produced by simplifying both the number of colours used, and the refinement of the detail in the image. Cheaper images, like advertisements, relied heavily on an initial black print (not always a lithograph), on which colours were then overprinted. To make an expensive reproduction print as what was once referred to as a “’chromo’”, a lithographer, with a finished painting in front of him, gradually created and corrected the many stones using proofs to look as much as possible like the painting in front of him, sometimes using dozens of layers.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

On the Road: Seeds at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem MA

Yesterday was rainy and windy, so what could be better than heading out with my hub to a museum followed by a lunch somewhere?

We chose the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.  One of our favorites for decades, the Peabody has a great permanent collection relating to the China Trade of the 1800s and ships in general, working craft, seamanship and art from around the world that sailors would bring back to Salem.  With the "new" addition to the museum they have good gallery space for traveling shows, too.  We were hoping there would be something there, but didn't really care. I assume the PEM wanted to attract more visitors so they have expanded their
coverage to the arts, fine and industrial, of all eras.
This large hall has been kept as it was originally. 
It is a delightful feeling to walk into the space.

The cabinets displayed artifacts brought home to Salem and donated to the museum by the original members of the East India Marine Society which was established in 1799.  
This giant seed caught my eye.  Actually the chicken caught my eye  and I eventually saw this...but it is a BIG nut!!!!

You can see the opposite wall in the reflection!

From Wikipedia's Legends of the Coco de Mer:
"The nuts that were found in the ocean and on the beaches no longer had a husk, and resembled the dismembered lower part of a woman's body, including the buttocks. This association is reflected in one of the plant's archaic botanical names, Lodoicea callipyge Comm. ex J. St.-Hil., in which callipyge is from the Greek words meaning "beautiful rump". Historically these floating "beautiful rumps" were collected and sold for a fortune in Arabia and in Europe."

This looks like a niddy noddy with extra cross a bottle. I don't know what it is supposed to be.  I wonder if it was supposed to be a niddy noddy to amuse a sweetheart...but the sailor forgot exactly what it should look like.

Above: Great show... designs of my past that influenced me.

That's my reflection :-)

1936 The first Airstream, called the "Clipper" in 1936, was named after the first trans-Atlantic seaplane. It slept four, carried its own water supply, was fitted with electric lights and cost $1,200.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Larkspurs and Potatoes

1880 was a good year for color illustrations in the Vick catalog. A very nicely written short piece on these magnificent catalogs can be found at the New York Historical Society Museum & Library's site.  Written by "sue" last year, I enjoyed reading it.  

I love these turnip illustrations and their appearance on the page.  Why?  I don't know.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Silly Bean

It is gloomy and rainy out.  Even though I know April showers bring you know what, I feel the need of a silly seed.  And here it is! 

Science for kids, turn of the 20th century, Seed-babies by Margaret Warner Morley...


the sights and sounds of nature on a Maine island. Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey, 1958 Caldecott Medal Winner.

Monday, April 14, 2014

An Early 1866 James Vick Flower Catalog - Rochester, NY

 Ah...spring and the promise of summer flowers.  James Vick started to make that promise glow once inexpensive  chromolithography was available around 1880.

But, this first catalog is an early one from 1866, so it is visually plain in comparison.  The one color plate seems more like folk art than advertisement!

To think, the year after the Civil War people were looking at this catalog.

The b&w engravings have a formal charm I like a lot.


I forget where I read it, but some of these engravings of flowers may have been used by more than one seedsman in their catalogs.  An engraving business that specialized in botanical illustration to the seed trade would offer the "off the rack" plates for sale at a more attractive price than having your own illustrations custom engraved.  That left more money in the budget for interesting "bespoke" art.

 View the whole catalog, or download it in any format you like, from the Internet Archive.