Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Using lobsters for catching garden insects...

1793 James Sowerby (English artist, 1757-1822) Lobster

"Procure the hollow claws of Lobsters, Crabs, &c. and hanging them in different parts of the garden, the insects creep into them, and are easily taken; but the claws must be often searched." 
The Complete Vermin-Killer: A Valuable and Useful Companion for Families, in Town and Country, (London, 1777).

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Who was the mysterious feminist seed dealer & marketing genius Miss Carrie H. Lippincott?

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1891

The C. H. Lippincott Seed Company was the 1st seed company in the United States to be founded & managed by a woman, Carrie H. Lippincott (1863-1941) .  Carrie Lippincott had been born in in the middle of the Civil War in Burlington, New Jersey, in September of 1863.  Her father was Joseph P Lippincott, a tailor & merchant, born in New Jersey in 1821.  When he was 27 in 1848, he married Martha Abigail H Moore, who also was born New Jersey in June of 1829.  

Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1893

Carrie Lippincott was the youngest of their children & was still living at home with her parents in 1880.  By 1888, the Minneapolis City Directory showed Carrie living at 305 South 11th Street in Minneapolis.  When her father died, Carrie, her mother, her sister, & her brother-in-law moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1896

The unmarried Carrie Lippincott opened her flower seed business in Minneapolis in 1896, when she was 33 years old.  The seed business blossomed & was housed in a 2-story brick building next to the home she shared with her older sister Rebecca (1849-1944) & her husband Henry B. Kent (1852-1935) & their teenage daughter Florence (1883-1980) & with the Lippincott girls' widowed mother Martha at 319 & 323 Sixth Street South, in Minneapolis.  Sister Rebecca Lippincott had married Henry B Kent in 1878 in Bloomfield, Essex County, New Jersey. Henry was a carpenter in Bloomfield in 1880.

The Lippincott sisters lived here with the brother-in-law, teenage neice, & widowed mother

Apparently, Carrie Lippincott issued her 1st seed mail catalog in January of 1896.  She also advertised in the local Minneapolis Journal for several years.  From March through April, 1896, Miss C H Lippincott advertised nasturtiums, sweet peas, & lawn grass for sale at her seed store in the Minneapolis Journal.  She also advertised, "The most magnificent catalogue free on application." Several of her ads boasted, that she had "The Best Flower Seeds." 

Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1896  This catalog seems to connect the Chinese Primroses for sale to a celebration of the immigration into America of the late 19C.

An article in the October 19,1896 Minneapolis Journal reported that, "When Miss C H Lippincott, the florist, issued her 1896 catlogue of flower seeds last January, she offered $200 in cash prizes for the largest blossoms raised from the seed of her "Royal Show Pansies," to be divided into twent prizes.  This was the largest sum of money ever offered in a similar contest."  The contest drew 5,000 pansies submitted by 750 competitors from across the nation. The article concluded, "The contestants represented nearly every state in the union and demonstrated to Miss Lippincott that advertising pays when intelligently done."

Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1898

Carrie continued to place ads in the local paper.  The following year on April to May, she advertised sweet peas & nasturtiums along with a supply of lawn grass. for sale in the same local Minneapolis newspaper. 

Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1898

Carrie Lippincott apparently was a woman who liked to be in control & who feared little.  She made the local newspaper again on Monday, April 5, 1897, when a man was bound over to court for burglary.  He was identified by Miss Carrie Lippincott as the man with whom she had a tussle in the hall of her brother-in-law's house on Sixth Street.  Police noted that man had several prior charges of burglary & blowing up safes in Minneapolis.

Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1899  This catalog is intriguing because of it blatant orientalism.  The Orient, including present-day Turkey, Greece, the Middle East, & North Africa, exerted its allure on many Western artist's imagination in the 19C.  Harem scenes evoked a sense of cultivated beauty & pampered isolation to which many Westerners aspired.

In 1891, Carrie Lippincott began calling herself  “The Pioneer Seedswoman of America.”  Unique among seed companies, she specialized in flower seeds, & targeted female clientele.  Her greatest contribution to the seed trade industry was her gift for marketing. In the 1880’s, most seed packets from most seedhouses looked the same. The packets were printed on medium bond manilla paper with the text in black ink, perhaps with a little color on the vegetable or flower illustration. The farm-oriented catalogs appeared with big 8x10 illustrations featuring fruits & vegetables on their covers & in interior illustrations.  Lippencott's seed catalogs & advertisements revolutionized how garden seeds were sold. Her catalogs featured images of children, women & flowers giving her an edge with women customers among her competition. 

Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1899.  This catalog is particularly interesting because of the use of Japonisme.  The French term Japonisme, 1st used in 1872, refers to the influence of Japanese art, culture, & aesthetics, which occurred in Europe & America after the 1848-1854 period, when after more than 200 years of seclusion, foreign merchant ships of various nationalities again began to visit & trade with Japan.

A quote from one contemporary publication said “the key to her success is prompt service, best seeds, reasonable prices, beautiful flowers, by a woman.”  Contemporary accounts of her business highlight that her 25 seed order clerks were women & that she often employed housewives to grow out seed stock on their farms & backyard gardens.  In 1894, she adopted the practice of listing the number of seeds per-packet, so her customers could plan their gardens beds more accurately.  By 1896, Carrie's business claimed to have received 150,000 orders.

Among her employees were Samuel Y. Haines (1853-) & his young wife Charlotte.  When Sam Haines had applied for a passport in 1895, he stated, that his occupation was seedsman.  By July 1896, Sam Haines, whose family had also come from Burlington, New Jersey & married into the Lippincott family there, was a full-time employee handling the advertising, which was the core of her success.  

An interview with Carrie Lippincott & Haines in the July 8, 1896, issue of Printers' Ink, a journal for advertisers, paints a picture of a woman deeply involved in the operations of her business, so much so that all pieces of mail have to be opened before her eyes.  "She is the original pioneer seedswoman - a real woman, arranging all the details of a large business herself."  

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1899

Once again on April 20 & 27, 1900, she advertised in the Minneapolis Journal, admonishing her clients that was "time to give your lawn attention."  She was still selling lawn grass seed, sweet peas, & naturtiums at her store.  

By 1900, the entire family was working in Carrie's seed enterprise. Working with her mother & sister & brother-in-law, she created a thriving trade based on hard work & her shrewd sense of marketing. Her 5-inch by 7-inch catalogs were colorful sales tools infused with Carrie's personal touch. Carrie tried to make her customers feel that they were part of her family.  In her chatty catalog greetings each mailing, she updated her customers on the doings of her family, in fact, she referred to the catalogs as annual "Greetings."  The catalogs' colorful lithographed covers, usually depicted idealized children surrounded by colorful flowers.  They looked more like the chromo lithograph greeting postcards of the day rather than typical sales catalogs.

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1901

Customers who received orders from the company found packages artfully tied with beautiful blue ribbons.  Each order contained a handwritten card which simply said, “Yours for Fine Gardening, C. H. Lippincott.”  By 1898, she owned an operated the world's largest seed house specializing in flowers & was printing a quarter of a million copies of her catalog. Competitors took note, & soon here colorful graphic designs & personalized practices were being copied by other seed sellers. 

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1902

Lippincott’s approach to marketing through her emphasis on a woman-owned company that catered to other women, led to at least 2 other seed firms in Minneapolis to conduct seed distribution business under women’s names. Their catalogs were also similar in size & used colorful graphic images.  Lippincott knew that men controlled these nearby companies, & she was right. Her 1899 catalog stated “it is a peculiar thing in this day & age that a man should want to masquerade in woman’s clothing.” 

Jessie R. Prior's Catalog 1901

Jessie Prior's husband had operated a seed business in Minnetonka, west of Minneapolis, for 5 years, before a seed catalog using her name appeared in 1895. There was quickly talk among their competitors, that the use of Jessie's name was only a marketing gambit.  Jessie Prior's extant catalogs are silent on the gender issue. Jessie did apply for membership in the all-male American Seed Testing Association in 1903, however, only to be turned down ostensibly because she was a woman.

Miss Emma V. White, 1900 catalog

Miss Emma V. White, also of Minneapolis, apparently took up the mail-order seed trade in 1896, imitating Lippincott's catalog format. Actually, Emma White was listed as a boarder at the home of Alanson W Latham & his wife in 1900.  Latham just happened to be Secretary of the Minnesota Horticultural Association.   He was so well known for his horticultural exploits, that the University of Minnesota chose him as one of 4 "Master Farmers" noting that "Mr Latham, who is secretary of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, is known as an authority on grapes, and has been active in horticultural work."  

The cover of the White 1900 catalog had an illustration which featured an obvious imitation of Palmer Cox's popular "Brownies" characters. In the early years, the White catalog often used pixie figures to dance around the flower art in her illustrations, which differentiated them from the more straight-laced visuals of both the Priors & Carrie Lippincott. Her photo was printed in the catalogs.

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1903

Lippincott began publishing her picture in her catalog beginning in 1899, explaining that "a number of seedsmen (shall I call them men?) have assumed women's names in order to sell seeds." 
White countered a few years later with the protest, "I am a real live woman & I give personal attention to my business." 

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1904

Carrie was on the 1900 federal census with her family in Minneapolis, & on the 1905 voter list there.  The Minneapolis City Directory showed her seed business at 4410 Harriet Boulevard.  She was listed until 1909, in the city directory, as a seed dealer. 

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1905

But, by 1910, Carrie Lippincott, her sister Rebecca & her brother-in-law Harry, & her widowed mother, now 80 years old, had moved to Saint Croix, Wisconsin.  

Photographs of Lippincott's Seed Store were printed on the back Carrie Lippincott's 1914 catalog. At this time her business address was 208 Locust Street in Hudson, Wisconsin.

By 1910, Carrie replaced her brother-in-law in the census as the head of the household & owner of a seed business.  Her brother-in-law is listed as manager of the seed business.  In Wisconsin, they employed a Norwegian woman named Eda to tend house & help care for the elderly family matriarch.

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1907

Carrie's personal touch apparently appealed to her mostly female customers. In 1911, she wrote in her catalog, "I wish it were possible for me to write a personal letter to all who have written me such pleasant & encouraging letters this past year. But that is impossible for I have received hundreds of them, & I thank you all for my mother, my sister & myself…"  Her 1911 catalog was advertising seeds from their Hudson, Wisconsin, location.

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1908

The following year, Carrie Lippincott returned to Minnesota & once again was listed in the 1915-1917 Minneapolis City Directory as a seed dealer at 3149 Holmes Avenue.  

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1911

The 1920 census shows that the Lippincotts & Kents had moved back to Minneapolis permanently after the death of their elderly mother.  By this time, Carrie was still listed as the seedswoman, & Harry Kent was listed as a florist.  She appeared in the 1922 Minneapolis City Directory as a florist at 3010 Hennepin Avenue.  The 1923-1929 city directories, Carrie Lippincott was listed as a florist at 4445 Washburn Avenue South & at 3010 Hennepin Avenue.

 Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 

By 1930, both Carrie's sister & her husband were listed in the census with no occupation, but Carrie was still listed as the manager of the "florist" company.  In the 1934 Minneapolis City Directory, Carrie was a florist at both 3116 Hennepin Avenue & at 4145 Washburn Avenue.  In 1937-1939, Carrie was listed in the city directory at 5301 Xerxes Avenue South, but her occupation as a florist had ceased.  

Miss C H Lippincott Catalog 1905

By 1940, Carrie H. Lippencott & her sister Rebecca were living in the Minneapolis Jones Harrison Home for the Aged which is 80 acres on Cedar Lake dedicated to serving the elderly at 3700 Cedar Lake Avenue.  Carrie Lippincott died there on November 4, 1941, and was buried in the Minneapolis Lakewood Cemetery.

See an article on Miss C H Lippincott by MrBrownThumb.com here.

See mention of Miss C H Lippincott in the Landreth Seed Company history here.

Read the 1901 Lippincott catalog here.

Read the Smithsonian Library's biography of Carrie H. Lippincott here.

David Christenson, "Old Seed Catalogs Combined Science, Marketing, & Printing Arts"
See The Three Seedswomen here.

See the Anderson Horticultural Library at the University of Minnesota here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Philadelphia Seed Dealer & Nurseryman - Robert Buist 1805-1880

Robert Buist 1805-1880 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Buist was born near Edinburgh, Scotland, November 14, 1805. He was trained at the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens and sailed to America in August 1828.

When he arrived in America, he was employed by David Landreth, and then took employment with Henry Pratt who owned Lemon Hill which was probably one of the finest gardens in the U.S. at the time.

He formed a partnership with Thomas Hibbert in 1830 in a florist business in Philadelphia. They imported rare plants and flowers, especially the rose.

After Hibbert’s death he began a seed business, along with the nursery and greenhouse business. The business in Philadelphia started out as Robert Buist's Seed Store, selling gardening supplies, potted plants, shrubs, small fruits, and rose bushes. By 1837, the growing business relocated to 12th Street below Lombard; and in1857, the company moved to a location on Market Street.  And in 1870, it expanded to 67th Street near Darby Road. The Buist farm, Bonaffon, was located in the section of Philadelphia through which Buist Avenue now runs.

Alfred M. Hoffy, lithographer. View of Robert Buist’s City Nursery & Greenhouses. Philadelphia Wagner & McGuigan, 1846.

Buist if often credited with introducing the Poinsettia into Europe, after he saw it at Bartram's Gardens in Philadelphia.  During Buist’s early training at the Edinburg Botanic Garden, he met James McNab, a scientist & artist who eventually became the garden’s director.  In the early 1830s, McNab traveled to America with retired nurseryman Robert Brown to study plants native to the United States. While in America, McNab visited his friend Buist in Philadelphia. When McNab met with Buist in 1834, he gave the Poinsettia plant to him to take back to Scotland. The garden’s director, Dr. Robert Graham introduced the plant into British gardens.

Buist was reknown for his roses & verbena.  He was also the author of several books & many catalogues of his plant offerings.  Among his books are The American Flower-Garden Directory (1832); The Rose Manual (1844, 6 editions); and The Family Kitchen-Gardener (c1847).

Buist was obsessed by roses.  Gardener & plant historian Alex Sutton tells us that Buist sailed to Europe every year or two to buy new rose hybrids being developed in Europe.  He purchased much of his stock from M. Eugene Hardy of the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. In 1832, Buist saw 'Madame Hardy' for the first time and he wrote: "Globe Hip, White Globe, or Boule de Neige of the French, is an English Rose raised from seeds of the common white, a very pure white, fully double and of globular form. A few years ago it was considered 'not to be surpassed,' but that prediction, like many others, has fallen to the ground, and now 'Madame Hardy' is triumphant, being larger, fully as pure, more double, and an abundant bloomer; the foliage and wood are also stronger. The French describe it as 'large, very double pure white, and of cup or bowl form."  Buist introduced 'Madame Hardy' in Philadephia to his customers, many of whom must have been Philadelphia matrons, as he called them his Patronesses.

In 1839, Buist visited another of his suppliers, Jean-Pierre Vibert, of Lonjeameaux, near Paris, where he found 'Aimee Vibert'. He brought this rose back with him to Philadephia and wrote: "Aimee Vibert, or Nevia, is a beautiful pure white, perfect in form, a profuse bloomer, but though quite hardy doe snot grow freely for us; however, when budded on a strong stock it makes a magnificent standard, and blooms with a profusion not surpassed by any."

Seed storage warehouse of Philadelphia seedsman Robert Buist. From an 1891 wholesale seed catalog

In his catalog of 1872 Buist wrote “Three of the celebrated ‘Gordon’s Printing Presses’ are kept constantly at work on seed bags, labels, and other printing matter required in our business, and the stock of type and other printing material we use is equal in extent to that required by some of our daily papers...“When we established ourselves in 1828, the Seed business in this country was in its infancy, the trade was really insignificant in comparison to what it is in the present day.”

He was active with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, treasurer from 1858-1862 and vice-president for twenty-two years. He died in Philadelphia, July 13, 1880.  The family business was carried on by his son, Robert, Jr.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nurseryman - W Atlee Burpee 1858-1915

W. Atlee Burpee–(1858-1915)–Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The W. Atlee Burpee & Company was founded by W. Atlee Burpee in 1876 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Atlee was born in 1858 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

At fourteen years of age, Atlee’s hobby was breeding chickens, geese and turkeys. He corresponded with poultry experts worldwide and wrote scholarly articles in poultry journals. With a partner in 1876, the 18 year old Atlee started a mail-order chicken business in the family home with $1,000 loaned to him by his mother.

Poultry farmers from the Northeast knew of his business, and he soon opened a store in Philadelphia, selling not only poultry but also corn seed for poultry feed. It wasn’t long before his customers started requesting cabbage, carrot, cauliflower and cucumber seeds.

In 1878, Burpee dropped his partner and founded W. Atlee Burpee & Company, mainly for garden seeds, but poultry wasn’t dropped from the Burpee catalog until the 1940s.

By 1888, the family home, Fordhook Farms, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, was established as an experimental farm to test and evaluate new varieties of vegetables and flowers, and to produce seeds.

Before World War I, Atlee spent many summers traveling through Europe and the United States, visiting farms and searching for the best flowers and vegetables. Atlee shipped many of the vegetables and flowers he found to Fordhook Farms for testing. Those plants that survived were bred with healthier types to produce hybrids better suited to the United States. Fordhook Farms was the first laboratory to research and test seeds in this way. Fordhook Farms specialized in testing onions, beets, carrots, peas and cabbage.

In 1909, Burpee established Floradale Farms in Lompoc, California, to test sweet peas, and Sunnybrook Farms near Swedesboro, New Jersey tested tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and squashes.

In his travels, Atlee met Asa Palmer, a Pennsylvania farmer who raised beans, and who thought he had one plant that was resistant to cutworms. Burpee turned this bean plant into what is now known as the Fordhook lima bean, one of the company’s most famous items.

Another successful plant was the Golden Bantam sweet corn that the farmer William Chambers of Greenfield, Massachusetts had grown before his death. A friend of Chambers found some of the sweet corn seeds and sold Burpee seeds of the corn, and in 1902, Golden Bantam was featured in a Burpee catalog.

Before 1900 most people thought that yellow corn was fit only for animals, so in order to change their customers minds, many farmers slipped Golden Bantam corn in with the white corn they were selling. Within a few years, people in the United States were converted to yellow corn.

Iceberg lettuce was introduced in 1894 and named for its crispness. A key in Burpee’s business was the 1863 free delivery system, that required post offices to deliver mail to residents’ homes, and in 1896, free delivery was extended to rural areas. This allowed his catalogs to be delivered directly to people’s homes.

Thousands of letters were received annually from Burpee’s customers thanking him for his seeds. Burpee knew that the key to his business was advertising and the catalog was his advertising medium.

In his first year of business, his catalog was 48 pages, but by 1915 his catalogs were 200 pages and he distributed a million catalogs. Burpee personally wrote most of the copy of his catalogs. Burpee set up an advertising department and offered cash prizes for the best advertisements. This competition is what originated the slogan “Burpee Seeds Grow” in 1890.

The 1891 catalog was the first to feature engravings made from photographs, and by 1901 this process was done by machines. Burpee’s move to photography changed the whole industry and the hand-drawn illustration in catalogs disappeared. In another break with tradition, Burpee eliminated cultural information and put in testimonial letters and plant descriptions.

At Atlee’s death in 1915, the company had 300 employees, and it was the largest seed company in the world. At that time the Burpee company distributed over 1 million catalogs a year and received 10,000 orders a day.

Information from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries research.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Rochester, New York Seed Dealer James Vick 1818-1882

Vick's Illustrated Floral Guide for 1873, issued quarterly, pp. 132.

This article was written by seed dealer James Vick (1818-1882) of Rochester, New York, in  pages 21-24 of Vick's Illustrated Floral Guide for 1873.

 Store Front Wood engraving from Vick's Illustrated Floral Guide for 1873


It is acknowledged that I have the largest and best regulated retail Seed House in the world.  It is visited by thousands every year from all parts of this country, and by many from Europe, and 1 take pleasure in exhibiting everything of interest or profit to visitors.  As hundreds of thousands of my customers will probably never have the opportunity of making a personal visit, I thought a few facts and illustrations would be interesting to this large class whom 1 am anxious to please, and be, at least, an acknowledgement of a debt of gratitude for long continued confi­dence, which I can feel, but not repay.

Inside the Store Wood engraving from Vick's Illustrated Floral Guide for 1873

Two Catalogues are issued each year, one of Bulbs in August, and on the first of December a beautiful Floral Guide:, of 130 pages, finely illustrated with hundreds of engravings of Flowers and plants and colored plates. Last year, the number printed was three hundred thousand at a cost of over sixty thousand dollars. In addition to the ordinary conveniences of a well regulated Seed House, there is connected with this establishment a Printing Office, Bindery, Box Making Establishment, and Artists’ and Engravers’ Rooms. Everything but the paper being made in the establishment.

Vick Store and Processing Center on State Street in Rochester, NY 1873 Wood engraving from Vick's Illustrated Floral Guide 

To do this work fully occupies a building four stories in height (besides basement) sixty feet in width, and one hundred and fifty feet in length, with an addition in the upper story of a large room over an entire adjoining block.


The large basement is arranged with immense quantities of drawers, &c., for storing Bulbs.  Here, too, are stored the heavier kinds of Seeds, in sacks, &c., piled to the ceiling.  The heavier packing is also done here.


The first floor is used entirely as a sales-shop, or “store,” for the sale of Seeds, Flowers, Plants and all Garden requisites and adornments, such as baskets, vases, lawn mowers, lawn tents, aquariums, seats, &c., &c.  It is arranged with taste, and the songs of the birds, the fragrance and beauty of the flowers, make it a most delightful spot in which to spend an hour.

The Order Room Wood engraving from Vick's Illustrated Floral Guide for 1873


On the second floor is the Business and Private Offices, and also the Mail Room in which all letters are opened. The opening of letters occupies the entire time of two persons, and they perform the work with astonishing rapidity – practice making perfect – often opening three thousand in a day.  After these letters are opened they are passed into what is called the Registering Room, on the same floor, where they are divided into States, and the name of the person ordering, and the date of the receipt of the order registered.  They are then ready to be filled, and are passed into a large room, called the Order Room, where over seventy-five hands are employed, divided into gangs, each set, or gang, to a State, half-a-dozen or more being employed on each of the larger States.  After the orders are filled, packed and directed, they are sent to what is known as the Post Office, also on the same floor, where the packages are weighed, the necessary stamps put upon them, and stamps cancelled, when they are packed in Post Office bags furnished us by Government, properly labeled for the different routes, and sent to the Postal Cars.  Tons of Seeds are thus dispatched every day during the business season.

The Packing Room Wood engraving from Vick's Illustrated Floral Guide for 1873


Here is the German Department, where all orders written in the German language are filled by German clerks; a Catalogue in this language being published. On this floor, also, all seeds are packed, that is, weighed and measured and placed in paper bags and stored ready for sale.  About fifty persons are employed in this room, surrounded by thousands of nicely labeled drawers.


On this floor are rooms for Artists and Engravers, several of whom are kept constantly employed in designing and engraving for Catalogues and Chromos. Here, also, the lighter seed are stored.  In a large room adjoining, is the Printing Office, where the Catalogue is prepared, and other printing done, and also the Bindery, often employing forty or fifty hands, and turning out more than ten thousand Catalogues in a day. Here is in use the most improved machinery for covering, trimming, &c., propelled by steam.

The Bindery Wood engraving from Vick's Illustrated Floral Guide for 1873


The immense amount of business done may be understood by a few facts: Nearly one hundred acres are employed, near the city, in growing flower seeds mainly, while large importations are made from Germany, France, Holland, Australia and Japan.  Over three thousand reams of printing paper are used each year for Catalogues, weighing two hundred thousand pounds, and the simple postage for sending these Catalogues by mail is thirteen thousand dollars.  Over fifty thousand dollars have been paid the Government for postage stamps last year.  Millions of bags and boxes are also manufactured in the establishment, requiring hundreds of reams of paper, and scores of tons of paste-board.  The business is so arranged that the wrappers are prepared for each State, with the name of the State conspicuously printed, thus saving a great deal of writing. as well as preventing errors.

I had prepared several other engravings of German Room, Printing Office, Artists’ Room, Counting Room, Mail Room, Post Office, &c., but have already occupied quite enough space give readers somewhat of an idea of the character of my establishment.  Another year, I may give further particulars.  James Vick

Seedsman James Vick (1818-1882)

James Vick was one of the merchants who dominated the floral nursery industry in New York in the 19C. James Vick was born in Portsmouth, England on Nov. 23, 1818.  In 1833, at the age of 12, he arrived in New York City to learn the printing trade.   By the time he moved to Rochester, he had acquired skills as a printer & writer.

In 1837, he moved with his parents to Rochester, New York, where he set type for several newspapers & journals. In 1849, James Vick was elected corresponding secretary of the Genesee Valley Horticultural Society. From 1849 through the early 1850s, Vick edited & then bought the popular journal The Genesee Farmer in 1855.  He later owned part of a workers’ journal and helped to found Frederick Douglass’s North Star.

Vick’s house in 1871

With Vick as editor, the publication became more elegant & circulation rapidly increased.  A year later he sold out to Joseph Harris.  On the death of A. J. Downing, James Vick bought "The Horticulturist" & moved it to Rochester in 1853.  For for 3 years he published this with Patrick Barry serving as Editor. It was devoted to horticulture, floriculture, landscape gardening, & rural architecture.

About this time, Vick started to grow flowers & began sending seeds out by mail to the readers of his publication.  Vick also started importing seed stock. In 1855, he established a seed store & printing house in Rochester for his growing mail order business.  In 1856, Vick started "Rural Annual and Horticultural Directory".  The first half was a seed catalog & the second a list of nurserymen.  This was taken over in 1857 by Joseph Harris who continued it until 1867.

Vick's Home on the South Side of East Avenue in Rochester, NY. 1877

With Vick’s knowledge of chromolithography & printing, he produce a catalog & later a monthly magazine.  The first, "Floral Guide and Catalogue" was printed in 1862.  His "Floral Guides" provided gardening advice, quality color prints, & reached a circulation of 250,000.  He entertained his readers with anecdotes, published letters he had received, & had a special section for children.

By the 1870s, as many as 150,000 catalogs were sent out each year.  A staff of more than 100 worked in the office & packing house.  There were over 75 acres of seed gardens scattered about the city.  In 1878, Vick started a paper, "Vick’s Illustrated Monthly" which was published by the Vick Seed Company in Rochester & in Dansville until 1909.  This magazine was sold by subscription.  Vick also printed a set of chromolithograph prints which were either sold or offered as premiums with large orders.

The Seed House of James Vick 1881 From Commerce, Manufactures & Resources of Rochester, NY

Vick was one of the most successful American horticultural seedsman, writers, & merchandisers of his day.  The Vick Seed Company continued into the 20C before being sold to the Burpee Seed Co. 

Thanks to the Smithsonian Libraries Biographies of American Seedsmen & Nurserymen 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

18C & early 19C Seed Dealers & Nursery Owners of South Carolina

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) Golden Groves The Seat of Mrs (John) Sommers Stono River. Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum, Charleston, South Carolina.

It is difficult to strike just the right balance for a diverse audience of readers. Some are plant historians, who want to know precisely what plants are being sold when.

Other readers are interested in the development of an industry & its marketing tactics of appealing to & changing the needs & desires of their customers. Those readers usually don't care exactly what is being sold, except as it changes from utilitarian to ornamental.

In this posting, I will include more specific plant listings. (I will also ask you to return to an earlier posting for the basics of seed saving, one of the most important ways of having seeds to plant the following year for all 18th century gardeners.)

c 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Detail of Settee on a Hill at Rice Hope Plantation from One of the Rice Fields. South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. Dr. Read had been a Surgeon in the Continental Line during the Revolution. The name Rice Hope was one of the many such hopeful combinations; there were also a Silk Hope, a Salt Hope & a Brick Hope near the Cooper River.

I want to use the watercolors of Charles Fraser to let us feel the South Carolina landscape around us as we learn how it was being groomed & planted. Thanks to South Carolina native Charles Fraser (1782 - 1860 ) we have a chance to see, through his eyes, the homes & gardens there as he was growing up. Although he was primarily known his miniature portraits, he also created watercolors of historical sites, homes, & landscapes. He painted while working as a lawyer, historian, writer, & politician. Today, many of Fraser's works are displayed at the Carolina Art Association & the Gibbes Art Gallery in Charleston. I will also include a painting by Thomas Corum (1756 – 1811), who taught Charles Fraser to paint.

South Carolina was a world of its own in the early 18th century, and it might be interesting to compare & contrast the marketing of plants & the growth of professional seed & plant dealers there with the more northern colonies.

Trading seeds & plants with other gardeners

In warm, nearly tropical South Carolina, naturalists Mark Catesby (1682-1749) & John Bartram (1699-1777) both visited the intriguing colony, increasing botanical awareness in the area. Catesby & Bartram took samples of new plants they found and traded them with others, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
John Bartram, the Philadelphia gardener, explorer, & botanist, regularly sent plants to English merchant & botanist Peter Collinson (1649-1768). His famous garden at Mill Hill contained many American plants.

1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Arbor for Gatherings. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

South Carolina gardener Martha Logan ((1701-1779) carried on a lively correspondence with Philadelphia botanist John Bartram. Bartram wrote to his English mentor Peter Collinson in May of 1761, that she was
“an elderly widow lady who spares no pains on cost to oblige me: her garden is her delight and she has a fine one; I was with her about 4 minutes in her company yet we contracted such a mutual correspondence that one silk bag of seed bath repast several times.”

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Dr. Alexander Garden (1746-1802)
who practiced medicine in Charleston, made important contributions to plant identification later in the 18th century. Garden also traded seeds & plants with others interested in botany on both sides of the Atlantic. He is most remembered for the gardenia named in his honor by Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who established the modern system of plant classification.

Everyday gardeners, gentry & common folk, traded both useful & ornamental seeds & plants with each other regularly throughout the 18th century in South Carolina.

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) 1803 Richmond, the Seat of Edward Rutledge in St. John's Parish. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. The Richmond house stood on a hill overlooking the Eastern branch of the Cooper River. It had belonged to Colonel John Harleston, one of the oldest Cooper River families. From him it had passed to his daughter Jane Smith Harleston, the wife of Edward Rutledge, whom she married in 1794. The house at Richmond is one of the most typical Low Country plantation houses sketched by Fraser. The high foundation of masonry, the two stories of wood, the high hipped roof, the single piazza with its wide brick stairway flanked by ramps of the same material that flare out at the ground into cylindrical newels-all these repeat themselves endlessly through the Low Country, with only minor local variations.(Mixup in converting slide to jpg caused house to reverse, sorry.)

Ordering seeds & plants from English factors

Whether planting their lands for necessity or pleasure, early South Carolina gardeners were initially bound to write back to England for gardening manuals and for many of the specific plants and seeds they were familiar with from their mother country. But soon commercial seed dealers and nursery owners began importing plants to sell directly to South Carolina gardeners.

Many South Carolina gardeners ordered their seeds directly from England. In the December 19, 1754, issue of the South Carolina Gazette, Captain Thomas Arnott noted that he brought a box of “Tulip, Narcissus, and other Flower Roots” from England “supposed to have been ordered by some person of this province” and that the “person that can properly claim them, may have them.”

Newspaper advertisements, broadsides, & estate inventories give a fairly accurate reflection of the seeds & plants early South Carolina gardeners purchased in the marketplace before 1820. The South Carolina Gazette was Charleston’s first newspaper commencing publication in January 1732. Most early seed dealers used this newspaper as a vehicle for marketing their wares.

30 May 2, 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Buying seeds from ships arriving in South Carolina

The earliest seed dealer advertising there was Samuel Everleigh, although his ads weren’t specific. In the December of 1732 issue, he offered for sale “divers sorts of best Garden seeds,” and 3 years later in December of 1736/7, Everleigh again advertised, “Garden seeds fresh and good.” On March 29-April 6, 1739, he offered “Grass and Garden Seeds.”

When young Charles Pinckney opened his “new store on the Bay in the 1740s, he advertised “garden seeds Just imported from London” in the South Carolina Gazette. His competitor, Robert Pringle, whose store was also “on the Bay” advertised garden seeds imported from London.

In 1748, Frederick Merckley & Thomas Shute advertised for sale “sundry sorts of Garden Seeds” which were imported from Philadelphia rather than London. However, England remained the dominant source for plant stuffs.

Samuel Came fist appeared in the February 12, 1753 issue of the South Carolina Gazette declaring that he had “Imported from London, an assortment of useful garden seed, some flower roots and seeds, Windsor and kidney beans, dwarf, marrow-fat and Ormond Hotspur Peas.” Came advertised again in the January 1764 issue that he had “a assortment of Garden Seeds, flower roots, etc.”

The domestic commercial sale of plants continued to grow in popularity. In January 1764, Thomas Young advertised in the South Carolina Gazette that he had imported, “A greet Variety of kitchen-garden and flower Seeds, which are very fresh, having had a short passage; which, with some flower roots, eta. he will salt reasonably, at his house at the west-end of Broad-street.”

In the December issue of the same year, Young was about to move from his house, and he advertised “a parcel of seeds to dispose of cheap; also some shrubs, trees, roots, etc. among which are a great number of Cork, walnut, with some chestnut and almond trees, with squill and other medical roots and seeds.”

John Edwards
came to South Carolina, from New York, in 1764. He advertised in the March 3, 1764, South Carolina Gazette that he brought with him “a large collection of English garden and flower seed” which he had raised himself.

In January of 1765, Lloyd & Neyle advertised that they had just imported from London and Bristol “garden seeds and flower roots, amongst which are the best orange carrots Turkey renunculas roots, Dutch tulips, fine anemones, double poppies, double larkspur.”

In March of 1791, Charles McDonald at 186 Meeting Street advertised “Fresh Garden Seed, a SMALL assortment of Flower and other GARDEN SEED, Just imported from London.”

In the 1803 Charleston Courier, Tait, Wilson & Co advertised: "Early Chariton Peas, London Cauliflower, Dwarf Marrowfat do., Early Cabbage Lettuce Coss, Early Frame do.,Cabbegge of all sorts, Crown, Transparent, and White and Black Mustard, Tail Sugar do., Solid Celery, Dwarf White Kidney Beans, Curled Parsley, Canary and Rape Seeds, Green Curled Endive, Early ad Imperial York, Long Prickley Cucumber, Cabbage, Red Beet, Early Sugar-loaf do., Large Norfolk Turnip, Drumhead do., Round Spinnage, Green Glazed do., Portugal Onion, Battersea do., Garden Cress, Cornish York do., Salmon Reddish, Early Penton Cabbage, Scarlet Salmon Reddish, Red Pickling do., Short Top do., Early Purple Brocoll, Turnips do., Late do., Naples do., Siberian do., London Leek, White do., Choux de Milan, Large Green Savoy, Brussels Sprouts, Dwarf do, White Scariat Runners, Yellow do."

In the next year, Simmons & Sweeny, at the corner of East Bay & Broad Streets, advertised in the January of 1804, issue of the Charleston Courier, “JUST received and for sale by the subscribers a few bundles FRUIT TREES, of the best quality; each containing twenty-four TREES, 1 Honey CHERRY, 1 Amber do., 1 Early White Nutmeg Peach, 1 Green do., 1 Early red, or rare ripe do., 2 large yellow Lemon clingstone do., 1 White Blossom do., 1 English Swalsh, (or Nectarine), 1 Green Catherine do., 1 Late October Clingstone do., 1 Red Pine Apple do., 1 Early black Damask Plumbs, 1 Magnum Bonum, or Yellow Egg Apple, 1 large Early Harvest do., 1 large Red Spitzenburgh do., 1 Fall Pippin do., 1 Newton do., 1 Early Sugar Pear, 1 Jergonel, or large flavored Summer do., 1 Vergeline or fine Melting Fell do, 1 Almond, 1 Nectarine, 1 Apricot."

J. F. Gennerick,
who was selling seeds at 150 King Street advertised in the Charleston Courier on June 18, 1807: “ELEGANT FLOWER ROOTS, RANUNCULUS, Antimonies, Imperical Manager, Blue unbellated Crechum, The Striped Lilly, Scarlet Caledonian do., Double Scarlet do., Dotted Arcadian do., The Two Stage Martagon, Variegated Colechicums, Double do., Broad leafed Poncratium, Purple Fiemanthus, Geurnsey Lilly.”

1800 View of Mulberry, House and Street, Thomas Coram (1756 – 1811), The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. This is the earliest known depiction of a plantation house with rows of single-room slave cabins leading to the powerful owner's house.

Buying directly from local plantation & nursery owners in South Carolina

In the September, 1745 issue of the South Carolina Gazette, Richard Lake advertised for sale at his plantation on the Ashley River, “Lemon Trees with Lemons on them, in boxes, Lime Trees and Orange Trees in Boxes, and several curious Plants in Pots, also variety of young Fruit Trees, particularly white Mulberry and Orange Trees.”

In January of 1749, Lake advertised his entire plantation for sale in the South Carolina Gazette. He used his large & diverse orchard & kitchen gardens as an advertising enticement. He stated that it had a very large garden both for pleasure and profit. It contained all sorts of fruit trees consisting of many thousands, a great deal of fine asparagus, and all kinds of kitchen-garden stuff, a young nursery with a great number of grafted pear and apple trees, thousands of orange trees, and several lemon and lime trees in tubs and boxes, with fruit on them.

Rose Hill c 1820. Unidentified artist. Charleston Museum, South Carolina. Home owned by Nathaniel Heyward (1766-1851) & his wife Henrietta Manigault (1769-1827), the rice plantation Rose Hill on the Combhee River was home to 152 slaves. Rose Hill is also illustrated in the marginialia of the diary of their son Charles (1802-1866) which is at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston.

Importing experimental plants into South Carolina

During the 1770s-1780s grapes were becoming a popular item in both South Carolina & Georgia, where a friendly competition was growing between the neighbors.

The March 1772, issue of the South Carolina Gazette announced, “Yesterday also arrive here, with Captain John Turner, the ship Carolina Packet, from London…30,000 plants of Vines producing true Champagne and Burgundy Grapes, procured by the Assiduity of Mr. Masnil de St. Pierre (from the French settlement at Longcanes, called now New-Bourdeaux) who has received great encouragement in London, to perfect his scheme of making wines in the province, and obtained from the Society of Arts a Gold Medal.”

By the 1750s Benjamin Franklin had his hand in potential domestic wine production. The May 1, 1783 issue of the Gazette in Savannah noted, “Sometime ago Dr. Franklin sent to South Carolina nine vine dressers from Burgundy, and 1,200,000 sets of plants of vines, to try whether those plants would thrive there. Our merchants do not wish they may.”

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

On September 29, 1774 the South Carolina Gazette was carrying news of another experimental plant. Aaron Loocock was promoting & selling the dying root madder. “Those Gentlemen who chose to make Trial of this valuable and profitable article may depend on not being disappointed of Plants, if they order them in Time, either delivered at my Plantation at Goose Creek, or to any of their friends at Charles-Town, at Five Pounds a Thousand. Printed directions, from experiences in this Province, will be given.”

Evidently Looncook’s were successful, for almost 20 years later in the June 21, 1794 issue of the Augusta Chronicle and Gazette his “printed directions” appeared under this introduction “As the soil and climate of this country is said to be well adapted to the cultivation of that valuable dying-root, Madder, and as the planting, mercantile, and manufacturing interest of the United States may be very much benefited by its cultivation: I make no doubt but that a publication of the following observations on it will be very acceptable…written twenty years ago, by a gentleman in South Carolina…”

On January 9, 1796 in the City Gazette and the Daily Advertiser, Robert Day offered for sale “To Lovers of Improvement Five to Six Hundred LOMBARDY POPLAR TREES, one year old, from ten to sixteen feet high they are the first in America of their age or kind. Also, Two Hundred PLANTS of the large purple sweet WATER GRAPE, One Box, containing Two or Three Hundred PLANTS of the large Cork ASPARAGUS, two years old."

Jacques Burkhardt (1818-1867). Home of Gabriel Manigault.

Emerging professional gardeners, seed dealers & nursery owners in South Carolina

Just as it had in the Mid-Atlantic & Upper South, the method of selling seeds & plants changed dramatically in South Carolina at the end of the century. However, in South Carolina, the change began well before the American Revolution. The growth of urban economies gave rise to new commercial gardening ventures, nurseries & seed stores, operated by professional gardeners who initially imported & then grew their own seed & plant stock.

Plant Dealer & Garden Writer Martha Logan

Martha Logan (1701-1779)
first advertised her gardening wares in November 1753 in the South Carolina Gazette. She offered for sale “seeds, flower roots, and fruit stones at her house” on the Green, near Trotts Point. Martha Logan was the daughter of Robert Daniell, Landgrove and Deputy Governor of South Carolina. She was born December 29, 1704, and married George Logan, Jr. on July 30, 1719. Widowed by 1741, she was keeping a boarding school for children where they would be “carefully taught to read, write, dance and work several kinds of needle-work” in a “pleasant, airy situation” on the green near Mrs. Trott’s point. But her first love was gardening.

Martha Logan wrote a “Gardener’s Kalendar” that appeared until well past the turn of the 19th century in various almanacs. In the March 14, 1768, South Carolina Gazette she advertised seed imported from London: “A Fresh assortment of very good garden seeds and flower roots, with flowering shrubs and box edging beds, now growing in her garden.” Her notice establishes that box was used for edging in pre-Revolutionary gardens.

1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). View from Mr. Fraser’s City Residence from untitled sketchbook, The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently Fraser lived on King Street with his widowed mother.

Gardener & Plant Dealer John Watson

One of the most important working gardeners & seed dealers of the last half of the 18th-century in South Carolina was John Watson. He came to the province seeking work as a gardener from London in 1755. By December 10, 1763 he advertised in the South Carolina Gazette that he had imported from London, “a proper assortment of garden seed, flower roots, me, which he will sell reasonably.”

In 1764, when John Laurens built his "large, elegant brick house of sixty feet by thirty-eight," with piazzas on the south & east sides overlooking the marshes & Cooper River. He & Martha Laurens created a 600' by 450' brick-walled botanical garden, containing such exotics as orange, olive, lime, capers, ginger and guinea grass, with the aid of John Watson.

By September of 1765, Watson advertised an expanded line of garden wares advertised in the South Carolina Gazette. Beside garden seeds and flower roots, he offered “…a great collection of fruit trees, Of all kinds, which have been grafted and budded from the best fonts in the province, with a great variety of English grape vines.”

On February 4, 1778, Watson added clover seeds to his offerings. By the November issue of the South Carolina Gazette for the same year, he noted for sale “a great variety of Tulips, hyacinths, lilies, anemanies, ranuculuses, double jonquils” as well as asparagus roots.

His wares became more exotic by his November 28, 1776, notice in the South Carolina Gazette, Watson offered for sale “Sweet Almonds, Filberts, English Quinces, Olives, China double flowering Peaches, Almonds and Pomegranates.”

On January 1, 1778 his ad in the South Carolina and American General Gazette offered “Hazel Nuts Nutmeg, Myrtle flowering Trees….Magnolia or Laurels fit for Avenues, etc. any height from three to twenty, Artichoke.”

John Watson’s last notice appeared in February of 1789, when he offered “seedling cassenas for hedges, tallow trees for exportation.” In March 1789, John Watson died. His sons James Mark and John ran the nursery, until young John left South Carolina in 1802, finally selling “Watson’s Gardens.”

c 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Rice Hope Taken from One of the Rice Fields. South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Gardener William Bennet

Another gardener who came from England to South Carolina seeking work was William Bennet. In his initial ad for public work in the South Carolina and American General Gazette on May 13, 1771, he also noted “Seed to be sold,” which he had apparently brought with him from England. In the October 1, 1778, issue of the same publication he was still offering unspecified garden seeds for sale.

In in 1786 & 1787, someone claiming to represent Peter Crouwells, a well-known Philadelphia florist, who had immigrated from Holland, advertised in the South Carolina Gazette on December 11, 1786, “for sale, an extensive variety of the most rare and curious Bulbous Flowers, Roots & Seeds, which have never appeared in this country before they are just imported from Amsterdam…the most choice sorts of Hyacinths, double Jonquillea, Polyanthos, Narcissusses, Tarcetts, Tulips, double Tuberoses, Pasetouts, Carnations, with a great variety of double Ranunculas and Anemonies, a sort of Rose Bushes, etc.” Ladies and Gentlemen could get a catalogue giving the names and colors of all the Bulbous Flowers.

In February of 1790, John Chalvin & Co. Florists and Gardeners, from France” announced that they had brought “from France a great variety of Seed and Plants or flowering trees, lilly roots, jacinths, and crow feet of the scarcest and prettiest qualities; rose bushes of different colours; es also a great variety of pot and herbs seeds” which they had for sale at a very moderate price at No. 8 Elliott-street.

1800. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Brabants on French Quarter Creek, The Seat of the Late Bishop Smith. South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. This plantation lies on French Quarter Creek, a tributary of the Eastern Branch of the Cooper River. The original grant to Francis Pagett in 1704, was later joined a tract granted in 1709 to Daniel Brabant, a surgeon whose name became that of the plantation. It amounted to 3,000 acres, when Elizabeth Pagett married the Reverend Robert Smith, rector of St. Philip’s Church in Charles Town. He became the 1st Bishop of the State of South Carolina, and was the First Principal of the college of Charleston, where Charles Fraser was one of the students.

Gardener & Plant Dealer John Bryant

John Bryant
was an English gardener who arrived in South Carolina, sometime before his 1794 marriage to Jane Thornton in St. Phillip’s Parish in Charleston. He first advertised in the City Gazette and the Daily Advertiser on June 6, 1795 as a gardener for hire, but also noted that, “like wise imports, on commission, all kinds of trees, shrubs and seeds, either useful or ornamental, from England, Philadelphia and New York.”

By his April 15, 1796 notice in the City Gazette and the Daily Advertiser, Bryant was importing seed for speculation rather than commission, “just Imported, a small assortment of seeds.” Bryant gained confidence in his buying public as the years passed, and by the December 15, 1807 issue of the Charleston Courier, he was advertising, “A QUANTITY of FRUIT TREES, FLOWERING SHRUBS and PLANTS, of the most esteemed for quality and beauty. The Fruit Trees consist of Peaches, Nectarines, Pears, Cherries, Plumbs and Quinces, of the largest size ever imported, for their age, into this state.”

In 1807, Bryant eventually became the Clerk of Market Hall, where many plants & seeds were sold & exchanged; but in the fall of 1808, Bryant died. His wife Jane kept the garden operating into the spring of the next year. She advertised in the February 13 issue of the Charleston Times “For sale at the late John Bryant’s Garden, upper end of King Street - grafted Peach, Nectarine, Apricot, Plum and Apple Trees; Pride of India…Pine Apple plants…Geranium, and other Green House Plants.” She did not advertise again.

But it seems that someone bought Bryant's store & stock. The Charleston Times of January 16, 1811, announced the opening of a new seed store King Street. The unidentified proprietor advertised: “New Seed and Plant Store, Wholesale and retail 200...220 KING STREET RECEIVED from London an extensive assortment of choice Garden, Field, Flower and Bird Seeds, the growth of 1810. Also, by the ship Minerva, from New York, a large supply of fresh American SEEDS, together with the former Stock of fresh Seeds on hand, making the most complete and extensive assortment of Seeds ever offered for sale in this city. On hand, a large assortment of inoculated FRUIT TREES, among which are all the most approved kinds of Peach, Pear, Apple, Cherry, Plum, soft shelled Almond, Dwarf Pear, Dwarf Apple; Fruit and Flowering Shrubs, Red and White Antwerp Raspberry, that gives remarkable large Fruit, Red and White Currant, English yellow Jesamine, Lilach, with a large assortment of Plants, Garden Tools, Flower Pots, Hyacinth Glasses, Bulbous Roots, Split Pease, Oat Meal, Flour or Mustard, Etc.”

c 1799. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). View of a South Carolina Plantation Barn. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Botanist, Nusreryman, Gardener, & Writer Robert Squibb

Robert Squibb
, botanist, nurseryman, gardener, and writer, had published his catlogue-style book, The gardener's calendar, for South-Carolina, Georgia, and North-Carolina: Containing an account of work necessary to be done in the kitchen and fruit gardens every month in the year, with instructions for performing the same. Also particular directions relative to soil and situation, adapted to the different kinds of plants and trees most proper for cultivation in these states. He called himself a nursery and seedsman of Charleston, South-Carolina. The book was printed by Samuel Wright and Co. for R. Squibb, and recorded in the secretary of state's office, agreeable to the act of Assembly. (Price six shillings.), in 1787.

Squibb had announced his upcoming book with no undue modesty in the Charleston Evening Gazette of July 4, 1786. He declared that his patrons needed a gardening book to fit their particular coastal climate, and English books only mislead them with their instructions.

Squibb offered seeds for sale in the newspaper on August 19, 1795 in an issue of the City Gazette and Daily Advertiser, “THE Subscriber, after many years practice in this state, is fully convinced that garden seeds saved here are much better than those imported and does hereby forewarn his friends and customers against depending on foreign seeds, in particular such as onion, leek, carrot, parsnips, parsley, celery, lettuce, endive and spinage.”

In 1801 Squibb advertised using much the same technique in the Augusta Chronicle and Gazette of the State of Georgia on March 14: “GARDEN SEEDS. THE Subscriber having taken up his residence in Augusta, as Market Gardener, and the saving of Seeds being a branch of his profession, intends from time to time, both to import and save seeds of the very best kinds."

Squibb declared that he was offering his services & plants out of a sense of public responsibility, "He considers it a duty he owes to himself and fellow citizens, to remind them of the numberless impositions that for some years past have taken place in this city, by sale of garden seeds, which from their age of the inexperience of the collectors, have either not vegetated or else produced a degenerated offspring, by which the public have been much discouraged in the cultivation of gardens. To remedy this evil he offers for sale a small assortment of SEEDS collected from his own plants."

However, in 1802, Squibb was back in Charleston at his old garden. Squibb called his garden and nursery, “The Botanic Garden.” In the June 8 1802, issue of the Charleston Times, he advertised, “that he has imported from London, a small assortment of GARDEN SEEDS, in excellent order. Also a few kinds of Seeds on his own saving, equal to any ever saved in this state. Market Gardeners may be supplied with London Salmon Redish Seed, at one dollar per pound.”

Robert Squibb died on April 22, 1806 at Silk Hope Plantation near Savannah, Georgia, and was buried there. However, an ad for the “Botanic Garden” appeared in the Charleston Courier on November 2, 1812, “At the Botanic Garden. A variety of Elegant PLANTS, Such as Liqusiriniums, Geraniums, Cleroaedrems, Rosa Multifloras, double and white Oleanders, Flowering Heaths, Laurustkius.”

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Gardener & Seed Dealer Charles Gross

Charles Gross
was a gardener on King Street in the 1790 Charleston City Directory, who bought a lot for his garden in Hampstead in 1792. From there he continued to work as a gardener and sold seeds until his death in 1802.

Gardener & Seedsman Edward Otter
Edward Otter was another gardener & seedsman from England who brought garden seeds, peach trees, and Lombardy poplars with him when he came to Charleston In 1803.

1803. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Entrance to Ashley Hall near Charleston, South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. The 2nd Royal Governor William Bull inherited Ashley Hall in 1755. A medical doctor, he never wavered in his loyalty to his King. He left with the British in 1782, dying in London 9 years later. His will states: “I William Bull the late Governour of South Carolina for his Britanic Majestiy do …my worldly goods greatly deranged and lessened in value not by my Fault but by some unexpected contingencies I have met from peculiar situations wherein I have been placed during the late unhappy times in America…my plantation on Ashley River in Carolina where my Grandfather lived died and lies buried where my Father and all his children were born I wish to remain in the possession of one of his Posterity I therefore give to my nephew William his heirs…”

John Foy's Seed Store

John Foy’s Seed Store at 184 Meeting Street was especially active in 1810. In the November 14, 1810 issue of the Charleston Times he placed this notice: "A General Assortment of Choice Garden Flower, and Bird SEEDS FLOWER POTS, and some excellent APPLE TREES: ASPARAGIS-Gravesend; BEANS-Long Pod, Mangan, Windsor; BEET-Green, Blood Pled; BROCOLO-Purple, White; BURNET; CABBAGE-Early York, Heart Shaped, Sugar Loaf, early and later Battersea, Drum Head, Red Dutch, Green Glazed, Bergin, Green Savoy; CARROT-Early Mom, Orange, Yellow; CAULIFLOWER-Early and Late; CELERY-Solid, Italian, Chardoon, Chervil: CUCUMBER-Early Frame, Shod Prickly, Long Green roman: ENDIVE-Green Curled, White Curled, Broad Leaf or Bataivian; BEANS-Bush, China, Liver, Yellow, Refugee, RUNNERS-Scarlet, White; LEIUCE-Impoerial, Grand Admirable, Tennis Ball; ONIONS-Silver Skin, Large White. Red; LEEKS; PARSLEY-Double and single; PARSNIPS:PEASE- Early Frame, Golden Hospur, Early Charlton, Dwarf Marrowfat, Pearl and Prusian; Radish-Early Frame Salmon; White and Red do., White and Red Turnip, Saisafy, Sanzonara, Sorrel; SPINACH-assorted; TURNIP-assorted; BIRD SEEDS-Canary, Hopp, Maw, Rape; HERB SEEDS-assorted; FLOWER SEEDS-assorted; a few TULIPS and HYACINTHS; Assortment of most approved PEAR and APPLE TREES. JOHN FOY expects some PEACH and PEAR TREES, and also some APPLE TREES from the Botanic Garden, New-York."

By his December 24, 1810 ad in the same paper Foy added, “A HANDSOME assortment of FRUIT TREES."

c. 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Mepkin, The Seat of Henry Laurens, Esq., near Charleston, South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. Mepkin was comprised 3,000 acres. John Colleton of England, sold Mepkin in 1762, to Henry Laurens. After the destruction of the house during the Revolution, Henry Laurens built this one in which Henry Laurens, Jr. was living at the time of the sketch. As the latter had married a daughter of John Rutledge, Fraser was again among relatives.

Gardeners, Plant Dealers, & Botanists John Fraser & Sons

John Fraser & his son James were gardeners, botanists, & seed dealers active in Charleston from the 1780s, until James’ death in 1819. James remained in South Carolina during his father’s various returns to England.

In the Columbian Herald of December 17, 1795, James Placed the following advertisement. "GARDEN Seeds, JAMES FRASER, UP THE PATH. Has received 21 John Praiser, Nursery and Seedsman of Sloan Square, Chelsea, near London, per the ship Roebuck, A GENERAL ASSORTMENT OF CULINARY SEEDS."

In the December 6, 1808, Charleston Times, the following notice appeared, “FRASER & SON HAVE received by the schooner Blazing-Star from New-York, several hundred handsome PEACH, NECTARINE and APRICOT TREES a few handsome FLOWERS, SHRUBS, AND PLANTS.”
The June 1, 1806, issue of the Times carried a notice that, “Fraser & Son, Have imported from London, A GENERAL assortment of GARDEN and FLOWER SEEDS, which will be warranted as genuine, and all of the crop of 1808."

In 1810, they advertised, "A variety of English Garden & Flower Seeds; Flowers; Flower Pots; and a few rare Plants, the proper of Mr. John Fraser, botanist, having finished his collection of American plants. The seeds will be put up in convenient lots, for the accommodation of the purchaser. Any Ladies or Gentlemen who wish to be supplied annually with warranted Garden, Agricultural or Flower Seeds, and Roots, or choice Fruit Trees, will please send their orders to the said office, or address them to Messrs. MASERS & SONS Sloan Square, Chelsea, London."

c. 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Mepkin, The Seat of Henry Laurens, Esq., near Charleston, South Carolina.The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

William Dobbs Seed & Plant Store

William Dobbs
operated a Seed & Plant Store at 315 King street. He advertised in the December 2, 1811 edition of the Charleston Times: "For sale at wholesale and retail, an extensive assortment of Choice Garden Flowers and Bird seeds, the growth of 1811. Also, a great variety of Double Flowering Hyacinths; double, single, parrot and sweet scented Tulips; Renunculus’s: Ixia Crocata; Persian Iris, white and yellow Narcissus; Gladiolius, Garden Tools, Flower Pors, Hyacinth Glasses. Upwards of 4000 Inoculated Fruit Trees, among which are all the most approved kinds of Apple; Pear, cherry, Plum, Peach, Apricot, Nectarine, Hughe’s Crab, Chinese, and Syberian Apple, soft shelled Almond. Quince, Goosebery, red white and black Currant, Filbert Nut, Antwerp Rapsberry. Ornamental Trees and Shrubs - doable flowering Peach, Cherry, and Almond, spired Fruitrix, Mountain Ash, English yellow Jessamine, dwarf variegated Althed, Venetian Shumach, Guilder Rose, Burgundy and Moss do. Balm of Gilead Fir."

Unfortunately, Dobbs died in the fall of 1812. His inventory of December 3, 1812, gives a glimpse of the property owned by the seeds: “Rose Apple Trees, Rosemary, Squills, Double Tube Roses, Amaryths, Peach Trees, 40 Canary Birds, Seeds, Bird Seed, shovels, spades, bird cages, pees, 2 green Houses and glasses, garden tools, Glasses for Roots, Shelves of Jars with Seeds in them Double Seeds Box”

In October 1812, Dobbs property was put up at auction through ads in the October 13 and 22 editions of the Charleston Courier. “All the Personal Estate and Stock in Trade of WM. DOBBS, late of Charleston, Seedsman, deceased; consisting of a variety of elegant and choice Plants and Shrubs, in boxes and pots, various kinds of Seeds and Roots; Gardening Utensils; a variety of empty Flower Pots; an assorting of Crockery Ware: together with his elegant collection of Singing Birds; consisting of Canary and Mocking Birds; a Glass Case, containing stuffed Birds; empty Bird Cages; a few Botanical Books; Also, his two Green Houses with sashes. ALSO Several hundred choice Fruit Trees, now in the ground.”

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Philippe Stanislaus Noisette (1772-1835) Nurseryman & Seed Dealer

Another gardener & seedsman active in Charleston in the same period was Philippe S. Noisette. Philippe was a member of a distinguished family of nursery owners who had been gardeners to French nobles. He first moved from Paris to Haiti, when he was a young man and fell in love with a dark-skinned Haitian woman whose name was Celestine. In 1794, because of the Haitian slave revolution, he & Celestine relocated to Charleston, where he was offered a position as Superintendent of the South Carolina Medical Society Botanical Gardens.

He was especially interested in the production of sugar cane & ran this ad in the November 14, 1814 edition of the Courier. "P.S.NOISETTE begs leave to inform the Planters of south Carolina that he has successfully cultivated, for some pears past, in his garden at Romney Village, opposite Mr. Turpires farm, the Sugar Cane; and that he has at this moment canes form which Sugar may be extracted. In consequence of this great advantages likely to be drived to this state, from this valuable plant, he offers cuttings for sale, to such as which to increase their wealth, and that of their country, et the rate of Five Dollars for a hundred buds, or eyes."
"He has also in his garden, a great quantity of FRUIT TREES, grafted by himself of the best kinds from Europe; such as different kinds of Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, Plumbs, Pears, Apples, Figs and Grapes; as well as many foreign, Ornamental Trees, Shrubs and Plants. Also for sale, a collection of garden SEEDS, FLOWER SEEDS & FLOWER."

Philip Noisette's personal life was as interesting as his professional accomplishments. Because of the miscegenation laws of South Carolina, Philippe was forced to declare his wife, Celestine, his slave. They had 6 children who also became his slaves. The 1830 Federal Census recorded him as a single white man owning eight slaves, who are believed to be his wife & at least five of his six children.

In 1821 Charleston, records show that Phillipe Stanislaus Noisette, "Botanist of Charleston," stated that "under peculiar circumstances" he became "the Father of Six children, begotten upon his faithful Slave named Celestine." For many years it had been his intention to free his family, but the "passage of the late Law upon this subject" prompted him to seek their freedom now by the passage of a legislative act.

Shortly before his death, in 1835, Philippe petitioned the state of South Carolina for the emancipation of his faithful wife, now his slave, Celestine & their six children. Philippe died without knowing the results of his petition. Philippe’s family was in fact later emancipated and allowed to secure their inheritance & remain in the state of South Carolina.

In 1859, the South Carolina House of Representatives was petitioned to let the "mulatto" children of Philip Stanislas Noisette remain in South Carolina, as free persons of color. By his will Noisette had directed that the children, born of his enslaved wife, Celeste, be removed to some other country, where they would be free. The children, however, were "attached to the laws of the County, and very unwilling to remove."

Intrigue also followed Noisette's botanical accomplishments. An 1889 journal on botany reported the following information, "The Noisette Rose is a daughter of America. She was born one day in the garden of a brave citizen of Charleston, South Carolina, Mr. John Champney. It was obtained by fertilizing a Musk Rose, Rosa Moschata, by pollen from the China or Bengal Rose. Botanists called the new creation Rosa Moschata hybrida, and Rosa champneyana indifferently. But after awhile the name was superseded by that of Rosa Noisettiana in this way: At Charleston there lived a gardener named Philip Noisette, who was of French origin. This man fertilized one of Champney's hybrids, Champney's Pink Cluster, and getting from it another variety sent it in 1814 to Louis Freres, of Paris. The Rose became rapidly famous, and the name of Noisette replaced the first name of Champney, for the new race... The flowers of the Noisette are highly fragrant; they are numerous, double, and charm by the variety and delicacy of their colors." John Champneys, who lived southwest of Charleston, was an import-export merchant, whose trade was so successful, that he had his own wharves on Johns Island.

c. 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). The Seat of James Fraser, Esq., Goose Creek, South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. James Fraser was the older brother of Charles. The house was called Wigton.

Comparison of seed dealers & nursery owners in South Carolina & the Mid-Atlantic & Upper South

The pattern established by the growing South Carolina seed & nursery trade is similar to that of the Mid-Atlantic & Upper South, but there are some significant differences. In the extended Chesapeake region, gardeners & plant dealers dedicated to promoting & selling plants found their most secure footing after the Revolution.

Female Pennsylvania & South Carolina nursery owners & seed merchants successfully began selling both useful & ornamental plants decades before the Revolution. In South Carolina, much seed & plant material was imported from England, both before & after the Revolution.

In the Chesapeake, the earliest seed merchants & nursery owners, appearing after the Revolution, were from France & Germany. After the war, Dutch bulbs & roots found their way into South Carolina as well; and itinerant French seed merchants also peddled their wares in Charleston, but English nursery proprietors continued to own the majority of Carolina businesses.

In both regions, English gardeners & nursery owners came to dominate the local seed & nursery trade by the turn of the century. Both Chesapeake & Carolina garden entrepreneurs offered a full range of stock from greenhouse plants to seeds for field crops, from traditional medicinal herbs to fragrant shrubs by the beginning of the first decade of the 19th-century.

Seed merchants & nursery owners in both areas aggressively advertised their services & stock (at both retail and wholesale prices) in regional newspapers, & sometimes offered free printed catalogues to prospective clients. Gardeners in both regions sold seeds & plants at their nurseries & stores; at local farmers’ markets; and through agents at various locations throughout their regions.

Gardeners from both regions sold seeds & plants imported from Philadelphia & New York, as well as those from their local suppliers. A new nationwide network of capitalistic nursery & seed business was nipping at the heels of traditional garden barter exchanges in the Mid-Atlantic, Upper South, & South Carolina as the 19th-century dawned over the horizon.

1803. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). A Bason & Storehouse Belonging to the Santee Canal in South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. This was the storehouse at Simpson's Lock on the canal between the Santee & Cooper Rivers..