Saturday, February 18, 2017

1892 - Samuel Wilson, Seedsman, Takes Umbrage

1892 catalog

Before modern social media there were opportunities for people to publicly disagree in mean and petty ways...only it took a month between volleys.  

 Samuel Wilson seems to have pushed the limits of "creative selling" too far for the editor of The Rural New Yorker.  This review of Wilson's 1892 seed catalog shows the already present dislike for Wilson's misleading exaggerations. 

SAMUEL WILSON, Mechanicsville, Bucks County, PA.—A large catalogue of 112 pages of seeds, etc. 
Yes, it was on pink paper.
Some years ago Mr. Wilson took exception to some of our criticisms regarding his catalogue and therefore cut our acquaintance. Still, however, his catalogue comes for review. On the cover of the present edition is the statement that the present catalogue is a price list of “garden, field and flower seeds grown and sold” on his seed farm. 

We would ask Mr. Wilson if that is not a falsehood. On page 3 is an illustration of a plant of Modoc Corn “drawn from Nature on the field where it grew.” “The stalks grow to a medium height of seven to eight feet.” The illustration “drawn from Nature in the field” shows a plant five inches tall. The ears (five in number) average two inches long. Therefore, the proportion of reduction being accurate, these ears must have been two fifths as long as the plant was tall. In other words the ears averaged at least three feet long. 

On page 73 he speaks of the Washington Climbing Blackberry as bearing “the most delicious fruit” and as being “perfectly hardy in any climate.” This has been under trial at the Rural Grounds for a number of years. The canes are not hardy even in moderate seasons, the fruit is of inferior quality. Mr. Wilson gives the size of the berries as 1(illegible fraction) inch long by 1(illegible fraction) inch in diameter. The berries of THE R. N.-Y. specimen would not average an inch in length.  
On page 112 of his catalogue he alludes to THE R. N.-Y. as a “so-called agricultural paper”, “to show how much reliance can be placed on this agricultural journal” ,“so excited the ire of this wonderful paper” etc.— quotations which may serve to show our readers that Mr. Wilson is not yet ready to accept our criticisms as having been made for his benefit as well as in the interests of the seed-buying public.

Mr. Wilson's had indeed trashed The Rural New Yorker, weaving his derision into a rabbit article!  Samuel Wilson's catalog also sold poultry and rabbits. 

To read the article click on the rabbit for the larger image.

Samuel Wilson's reply to the bad review appeared the following month in The Rural New-Yorker, prefaced by the editor, of course!

MR. SAMUEL WILSON, the seedsman of Mechanicsville, Bucks County, Pa., seems not to have lost his temper while reading our review of his catalogue— page 119, February 20. 
 Here is his reply in his own words, punctuation and orthography :
“Ed. chief R. N. YORKER. Dear sir. “please accept thanks for recent coppy “RURAL. N. YORKER, containing criticism on my 92 catalog.  will you kindly inform me if you were sober when writing said criticism and about what time in the day it was written.
Yours Resy        SAMUEL WILSON.
P. S. How did you enjoy your vacation at the Water gap, Pa., last summer.         you seemed to be troubled “with a marning headache".    Try Keelys gold cure. - S. W.”
It is just as well, perhaps, that Mr. Wilson should make merry over our review of his catalogue as that he should assume to be indignant and essay to justify what is manifestly unjustifiable.
Still, it may happen with him (if he hopes to continue his business), as it has happened with others, that he will one day have occasion to regard THE R. N.-Y.'s well-meant criticisms from a more serious point of view.    The editor of THE R. N.-Y. has not visited the Delaware Water Gap since the summer of 1887. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .