I recently spent an afternoon at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society Library in Wellesley, Mass.
There I examined a collection of seed catalogs from the nineteenth century seedsman Robert Buist.
What I discovered was that Buist took great pride in telling his customers about how his firm used the latest communication techologies.
In his catalog of 1872 Buist boasted about his new printing presses. He 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.”
Buist, like most businesses of that time, had to keep modern, and that meant using the latest form of communication.
He wrote in that same catalog: “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.”
The world was indeed much different in 1870 when the new mass communication technologies enabled the company’s catalogs to be printed for the first time in the hundreds of thousands.
It was not only a new company. It was a new world.
Sounds a bit like today’s garden industry meets social media, doesn’t it?