Thursday, May 15, 2014

Toussaint L'Ouverture, Sinclair and Moore, and the Baltimore Gardens

The firm of Sinclair and Moore came to my attention today as I went looking in my piles of collected stuff for something besides pansies to blog about.  I had images of a Sinclair and Moore catalog cover and an ad.  Baltimore businessmen in the early 1800s, Sinclair and Moore served the prosperous estates supplying trees, among other things, for their landscaping.   They also had seeds and equipment for farmers.  I might be completely wrong, but they may have started as seed and plant dealers and morphed into a wheelwright and blacksmith business by 1833.  This is based on snippets of info I have not followed up on (and don't intend to...maybe).  Baltimore seems to be crawling with Sinclairs so I suppose it might be another pair on Pratt Street.

Here, check these first two out...

The Biodiversity Heritage Library has this 1826 catalog to view.

In the catalog there are both English and French seed lists.  
(Nasturtiums were offered in the vegetable lists.)

I was playing with Google Translate on these names.  
Could our Morning Glory be the French Beautiful Night

I read in Gardens and Gardening in the Chesapeake, 1700-1805 by Barbara Wells Sarudy why Sinclair and Moore published their 1925 catalog in French as well as English. It was due to Toussaint L'Ouverture's slave uprising in the French colony of St. Dominque. The upheaval of the island people made many leave and arrive in Baltimore.  Many of these immigrants became gardeners and introduced more exotic plants and fruits to the estates around Baltimore.

Sinclair and Moore had a store at the Pratt Street Wharf.

The following house was built in 1826 and was the sort of place that could afford to buy trees and so forth from Sinclair and Moore.  Not bad!   Go look at the interior images.

Just found a bit more info that expands on Mr. Sinclair's history, but it is almost 9 PM and time for teachers to hit the wooden trail.  His first name is Robert. 
to be continued :-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pansies in the WW I Trenches and Other Images

I promise not to put up any more pansy cards this year.  Scout's honor.

I thought I had harvested most all currently available but I worded the ebay search differently tonight (pansy lady) and turned up some interesting images, many French.

This one was WW I.

 The next one reminds me of the creepy flower ladies in the
 last post who were in some other plant.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Surreal and Creepy, Charming and Sappy Pansy Art - Plus Other Weird Stuff

Pansies are heavily used in cards since they mean, in the language of flowers, "thinking of you" more or less depending on what author and from what period you are looking at.

While most are like the first card here, this one is nicely done.  The others  are a selection of cards I found interesting...from perfectly sappy to perfectly weird; the strange womens' heads on the dark pansy down below is evil looking!

Was the muscle man picture glued on a pansy a message?

I think my best find for odd is right below, Baby For Sale"  with the huge pansy below indicating thinking of you? What is this saying?

The next one might creep you did me.  The top lady is demented.

Why would the publisher flip the image on this fair maiden pansy?  The card above the creepy one faces the other way.

I hoped to find the whole alphabet, but only found multiple S and P.
Nicely painted though.

Know your signaling flags?  (These are pretty looking nonsense.)

The next one was illustrated by Francis Brundage.
Interesting life!

Anyone old enough to remember Andy Devine and his weird piano playing cat, Midnight? Midnight was in a dress (as I remember) and I assumed some sort of device  to keep it upright and trapped so it pounded the piano and made cat faces. It all came back to me as I looked at the next card!! 
When I Googled it  some clips on YouTube turned up from Andy's Gang, the TV show that are very odd.
They were as strange as I remember.  I used to have to turn the channel sometimes.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Oldest Seed Packet I Have Found!

Seed packets are not something you save...unless there are a few seeds left and it gets tucked away and buried.  This one seems to have miraculously survived since the 1860s. However I must confess it was an ebay ad that gave that date, so some work is needed to confirm it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

1922 - Pansy Seed Worth More Than Gold!

"Men have fought, have suffered, have betrayed friends, have undergone untold hardship, have perished in the pursuit of gold worth but $20 an ounce and all unawares have made a football of fortune that lay  close to their homes. It seems a far cry from gold to pansies, but pansy seed is worth from $30 to $50 an ounce, more valuable than gold. Why not dare all to gather pansy seed?

How many acres of placer ground will yield $5000 net a year, year in and year out? Not many, possibly, even in the best of ground, for gold is exhaustible. Yet within Portland's city limits is a pansy farm that pays its owner $5000 and more a year net, and he farms six .acres. His seed cleanup on each acre averages about 16 pounds each year, and this 16 pounds of seed sells for $3000. "
From the article at the end of this post.

In the September issue I published a brief account of the pansy seed enterprise of E. J. Steele, Portland, Ore.    
AMERICAN SEEDSMAN has been fortunate in securing several pictures of this form and its products and these are reproduced on this page.

The three small views show workers harvesting seed in one of the gardens, beds covered with canvas to hold moisture for germination, method of curing seed. The largest picture shows a basket display of Mr. Steele’s choicest blooms, and the other a close-up of the plants in bloom.

Mr. Steele's finest pansy is the “Irene", a henna-hued bloom. He has also perfected a ruflled pansy, the “Masterpiece”, and hopes soon to present a bloom rose-pink in color.

"Concentrate your efforts on the extra fancy stock", advises Mr. Steelc. "Anybody can grow pansies, but not everyone can create something newer, finer, diflerent. In the creative field lies the greatest profit in the growing of pansies.”

Mr. Steele has in his file the names of a large number of “live" customers for his seed. The demands for seed have become so great that he is unable to fill orders for certain varieties.

He has been in this business for nearly 30 years and is conceded to have the largest pansy farm in the world. There are about two million plants set out at one time. The seed is picked by hand  with one acre yielding about 16 pounds of seed.

Here is the link to the full, large PDF of the Sunday Oregonian article below.

The Unitarian Register, Volume 101,  had this news that mentions Steele.  

I just found this 1918 ad.  Seed prices certainly fall once they are no longer "new"!!!!!


Now, this trade card is for Broom's Soap...but it is a Pansy Girl!! 
 Might as well stick it here for you to  enjoy.