Skip to main content

Seed packet, Comstock, Ferre, & Co., didiscus flower

Object Details

See more items in
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Date
ca. 1845-1900
Period
Victorian (1837-1901)
Accession number
1999.010.002
Description
Small seed packet for Didiscus flower from Comstock, Ferre, & Co. The front on the packet features the name inside a decorative border, with a color lithograph illustrating the flower, and the seed company’s information. On the back of the packet is information about the seeds and flowers they will produce. In the late 1700’s, the Shakers were some of the first American seedsmen to find success in retailing seeds and were the first to put seeds into packets. Seed packets quickly became the universal method to package and sell seeds. Rivalries with other seed companies as to who could produce the best varieties, at the best prices and the most reliable product. Competition resulted in higher standards of selection and packaging in the industry. Due to advances in paper manufacture and printing methods in the 1800s, packets became more visually interesting with colorful detailed drawings as a marketing ploy. Furthermore, the development mail-order seed sales revolutionized the business and packaging in the nineteenth century. Seeds could be sold to customers anywhere in the country, and as a result seed packaging became more streamlined. This was not only a labor-saving feature but also made distribution of seeds by mail possible to all regions of the country for more reasonable fees. When selling their seeds in a store, the company delivered the seeds to be sold on commission. At the end of the summer, companies took back whatever stock had not sold. Seeds were packaged in colorful packages and kept in display boxes and seed racks meant to attract the customers’ attention.
In the late 1700’s, the Shakers were some of the first American seedsmen to find success in retailing seeds and were the first to put seeds into packets. Seed packets quickly became the universal method to package and sell seeds. Rivalries with other seed companies as to who could produce the best varieties, at the best prices and the most reliable product. Competition resulted in higher standards of selection and packaging in the industry. Due to advances in paper manufacture and printing methods in the 1800s, packets became more visually interesting with colorful detailed drawings as a marketing ploy. Furthermore, the development mail-order seed sales revolutionized the business and packaging in the nineteenth century. Seeds could be sold to customers anywhere in the country, and as a result seed packaging became more streamlined. This was not only a labor-saving feature but also made distribution of seeds by mail possible to all regions of the country for more reasonable fees. When selling their seeds in a store, the company delivered the seeds to be sold on commission. At the end of the summer, companies took back whatever stock had not sold. Seeds were packaged in colorful packages and kept in display boxes and seed racks meant to attract the customers’ attention.
Label Text
Saving seeds is done both industrially for agriculture and gardening, but it is also done by amateur gardeners. Seed saving was the traditional way farms and gardens had maintained themselves for the last 12,000 years. In the nineteenth century, the commercial seed industry replaced most grassroots seed-saving practices. Rather than collecting and processing their own seeds, gardeners and farmers shifted to purchasing seed annually from seed suppliers. Seed harvesting is a carefully-timed and labor-intensive process, and many farmers and gardeners found relying on the seed industry to do this work for them much easier and more cost effective. The seed industry was essentially a centralized supply collected from individual raisers and sold to both local retailers and directly to the public. Seeds were grown on farms, harvested, dried, and cleaned. They were then sorted, categorized, stored, packaged, described, and mailed. These time- and labor-saving steps made the product of seedsmen more convenient and thereby more valuable than those saved from the previous year’s plants. This elevated their products over what could be found in one’s back yard. Originally in America, seeds had to be imported from Europe for agriculture and gardening, and not surprisingly, the long voyage by ship across the ocean compromised many of the seeds and stunted their successful cultivation. As early as 1780, the seed industry was established in America, and by the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was in full swing. The seed industry sold to home gardeners, professional florists, and market growers through stores as well as mail-order through catalogs.
Signed
Mensing & Stecher Lithographers (Rochester, New York).
Mark(s)
Comstock, Ferre, & Co. (Wethersfield, Connecticut)
Credit Line
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Company
Comstock, Ferre & Co
Printer
Mensing & Stecher, Lithographers
Topic
chromolithographs
ephemera
packets (containers)
agriculture
floriculture
flowers (plants)
horticulture
seed
Seed industry and trade
Medium
Paper, lithograph
Dimensions
3 1/4 × 2 1/4 in. (8.3 × 5.7 cm)
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Type
Seed industry
Seed packets
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/aq4e347d81e-97cf-42bb-82b4-859bd2fe4f3a
Record ID
hac_1999.010.002
Back to Top