Exhibit of Seed Catalogs

Walk down memory lane with ‘Seed Stories: Catalogs of Life and Gardens in America’ at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.


| December 24, 2010



On the cover of the 1911 seed catalog for Oscar H. Will and Co. shows a Dakota Indian giving corn to a pioneer.

On the cover of the 1911 seed catalog for Oscar H. Will and Co. shows a Dakota Indian giving corn to a pioneer.

courtesy Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Chanhassen, Minnesota – The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum takes a trip down memory lane with "Seed Stories: Catalogs of Life and Gardens in America," an exhibit of historic seed catalog covers opening January 7, and continuing through April 3 in the Reedy Gallery and Snyder Building.

The exhibit comprises nearly 150 catalog covers, pages and plates, culled from the Andersen Horticultural Library's extensive collection of more than 57,000 historic seed and nursery catalogs. 

Seed catalogs were once a staple on everyone's parlor tables. Brimming with folk art, exquisite plant portraits, whimsical fairies and gnomes or fair maidens in the garden, they highlight rural society's desires and interests, enterprises and passions. One will find advertisements for hunting dogs, pigs, chickens, pleasure boats, farm implements, porcelain vases and heal-all tonics.

"The cover images alone make this collection worth perusing. It's exciting to share them with the public," says Kathy Allen, head librarian of the Andersen Horticultural Library, which is part of the University of Minnesota Libraries. It is housed in the Arboretum's Snyder Building.

Many Midwestern companies are represented, including Lippincott seeds, Northrup King, both originally of Minneapolis, and Farmer Seed of Faribault, among others. (Northrup King is now a division of Syngenta corporation.)

Of special note are three seedhouses owned and run by women, quite an unusual feat in the early 1900s. These include Jessie Prior, Emma V. White and Carrie Lippincott. 





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