19th. century seed catalogs

lilies4meMarch 7, 2007

Hi...first time I've posted in this group. I have a question concerning some old bound books of seed catalogs from a family business. My parents recently died and that's how I've come to possess these books.

My question is would there be value in giving the books to a library somewhere so they could be used for reference (and which one)...also would they be used or more likely just put away in boxes in some dark corner. If the latter were the case I'd rather just keep them.

They are hardbound full-sized catalogs from the Plant Seed Co. in St. Louis, Mo. Starting in 1847 they began to take their brochure type catalogs for 2-3 years and had them bound in book format. The years are stamped on the spine as well as "Plant Seed Co." The book cover the period of 1847 - 1906.

They detail seeds for sale as well as farming equipment or decorations for farm homes such as cast iron settees, flagpoles, pumps, urns, etc. The farm implements include all types of fairly exotic equipment for making sugar from cane, tillage equipment including John Deere's original prairie plow for breaking up the heavy sod in the plains states. Some of the lithos show slaves working on cotton equipment, others show a dog on a treadmill churning butter or slant topped treadmills for mules or horses to process farm crops. Overall the equipment lithos are fascinating. The seeds listed are for varieties of garden and flower seeds and after approximately 1860 the text is published in English and German due to the large immigration of Germans to St. Louis I suppose. They're also curious because the Civil War bound books have comments such as, "we're now able to ship down the Mississippi due to Vicksburg falling" and comments about shipping out of newly conquered New Orleans ports.

I find the books to be a treasure trove on mid 19th. century farm life and practices and on my family. My children suggest selling them or donating them to a local library so their interest in keeping the books is minimal.

What recommendations do you have? I hate to see them become 'lost' or not used.

I appreciate and ask for your suggestions.



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Sorry...forgot to mention that there are 22 volumes and take up about 5' of shelf space. The books are approx. 10" wide and 12" tall. A couple volumes are missing from the 1880's.

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2007 at 4:22PM
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Absolutely! A library. Agricultural universities. Heirloom growers. Ebay. I would think you could find a number of individuals or groups willing to take those off your hands. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 10:53AM
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Actually I don't mind having the books...my intent isn't to just free up space. If that were the case I'd cut out the lithographs of old farm implements, etc. and sell them individually. What I want is that if I donate them...I want to know they'll be used somehow and helpful and not just sit on some forgotten shelf gathering dust. They mean too much to me to let that happen. It's 60 years of mid-19th century Americana and family history that I hate to see lost. I would like to donate them to some organization but it needs to be one that will find a meaningful use for them.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 9:10AM
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i have a gardening store i'd like to get a few of these to encase in glass i can send you thousnds of seeds in exchange lmk by e-mail.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 7:48AM
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