Saturday, September 20, 2014

Architectural Vignettes on Seedsmen's Stationery and Other Stuff

Teeny, tiny printed worlds  are so appealing to very nearsighted children.  I remember slipping into the engravings on stamps, back when stamps were a tour de force of engravings of historical events.  My interest here is an echo from those days long gone. My eyes changed with age into the normal range for close objects...I mourn the loss of my microscope eyes!

Excellent Links:

Short Guide - Traditional Shopfronts - a concise,
well illustrated helpful introduction

                                                                                                                    Fantastically informative PDF by Robert Biggert,
Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery 

The above image is also at the end of this post in full size so you can walk around better :-) It is in Germany. I wonder if this was to show English and American buyers the size of their firm.

 These two are from the Robert Biggert Collection at Columbia.

Above: Philadelphia then
Below: Now

Friday, September 19, 2014

Don't Fall Off the Tomato!!

Library of Congress image

While not a grower, Githens & Rexsamer are super merchandizers and this sign is too cool not to share!  I think they were from Philly.  I read last night in a 1913 article that they sold "high end staples, at fancy prices" :-)  Also, when they adopted trucks (5 ton and 2 ton Wilcox power wagons) their trade increased so much they had to add more salesmen on the truck to handle business.   They covered 60 miles in a day selling vegies.
 I am guessing they branded many things and sold them under their name on the East Coast.  A classy little bottle molded with Gothic arches once held their gherkins.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Turn of the Century Proud Alaskan With Her Tomatoes

This is Mrs. Frank Clark proudly showing off her Alaskan tomatoes in one of the magical summers in the 20th century before World War I.

Library of Congress image

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Old Photo: Sweet Pea Proud

And just for fun, here is a sweet pea illustration in the process of being scanned by Google.  Fingers in images are not that uncommon if you cruise digital books, but they always bring me up short, like finding someone else's crumbs in a book I am reading.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Watermelon Manna

James Peale -  c1820


Watermelon Vinegar  from American Agriculturist - 1873
By Mrs. F. E. R.—Perhaps it is not generally known that a very fine white vinegar can be made from the Juice of watermelons. We had a very great quantity of melons last season, and, after we had cut out their crimson cores for eating, scraped the shells, from which we gained a large amount of juice. This we carefully strained, and put into jugs with small glass bottles in their mouths. We set the jugs out into the sun, and in time had a fine-flavored, clear, strong, white vinegar. The vinegar at a certain stage will be very bitter, but, when perfected, loses this and acquires a true vinegar taste.

Recipes   from American Agriculturist -1879

"Mrs. E. M. 8." sends us the following recipes, which she says she has used for a long time, and I they have always given satisfactory results:
Sweet Pickles of Watermelon

• Peeled Water Melon Rind, 7 lbs.
• White Sugar, 2 lbs.
• Vinegar, 1 pint
• whole Cloves, 1 tablespoonful
•  few bits of Cinnamon
Add a tablespoonful of Alum to 2 quarts of water, and boil the melon rinds in it until a broom splint will readily pierce them. 
Pour off the water, add the sugar, the vinegar, and the spices, boil for twenty minutes, when it is ready to can for use. This will make four quarts.
SUGAR FROM WATERMELONS     from American Agriculturist - 1857
A friend has shown us a private letter, dated Sept. 4th, from a brother in San Francisco Co., Cal., from which we make the following extract.
I intend presenting (to the Mechanics' Institute of San Francisco,) some specimens of syrup and sugar from the watermelon. I consider this melon as the best source of syrup that has ever been tried—far more convenient than the cane or beet. All that is necessary is to press out the juice and boil; then strain through flannel, and evaporate to a proper consistence. One gallon of juice from the pulp yields one pint of syrup or three-fourths of a pound of sugar."
We are promised further particulars which will be given to the readers of the Agriculturist.
Remarks.—If half that has been said of the enormous growth of watermelons in California and also in Kansas be true, there may be some plausibility in the idea of making watermelon syrup and sugar profitably. Even in this vicinity, on Long-Island and in New-Jersey, they are grown of enormous size and in great quantities—at the cost of one cent each, it has been estimated. In Vol. XIV at page 250 we published the following item:
A correspondent writes: "I endeavor to raise a good watermelon patch. They are a healthy and delightful fruit. I cultivate the Icing variety; plant early in May, and again towards the close of the month, so that they may come in succession. When they begin ripening we commence cutting and using thpm freely during the hot weather. When the weather becomes cool in September, we bring a quantity of them to the house, split them open, with a spoon scrape out the pulp into a colander, and strain the juice into vessels.
We boil it in an iron vessel to a syrup, then put in apples or peaches like making apple-butter, and boil slowly until the fruit is well cooked; then spice to the taste, and we have something that most people prefer to apple-butter or any kind o. preserves. Or the syrup may be boiled without fruit down to molasses, which will he as fine as the sugar-house molasses. We have made in a single Autumn as much as ten gallons of the apple butter (if I may so call it) and molasses, which I kept in a fine condition until May."

This was the first African-American cookbook in the United States! 1881
Gosh, this sounds good with the ginger and lemon, but such work!
I grew up with watermelon pickle my Gram made...I wonder if I can find her recipe.


Monday, September 15, 2014

An 1894 Conversation With James Whitcomb Riley

I can't not republish this!

The tie in to this blog?  How about, as a poet James Whitcomb Riley referenced garden produce and country life more than most other poets?