The lawn is a gift of the English garden tradition from the eighteenth century. Early…
During the late nineteenth century Victorian period in America, the vase played an important role in the garden. The container had to be large and positioned on a stand so people would be able to see it.
Its plants included tropicals such as banana or canna. People also loved such plants because they were exotic.
Recently, while paging through the Parker and Wood seed catalog of 1888, I came across an advertisement for a lawn mower. Here is the illustration in the ad. [below]
The Parker and Wood Seed Company became the New England Agents for Blair Manufacturing in Springfield, Mass. which made lawn mowers.In the vase notice the large leaves on what is probably a tropical plant.
You can’t miss them.
Of course, the military figure cutting the grass also caught my attention. Why is he wearing what appears to be some sort of military uniform?
But it is the lawn mower that the ad intended to sell. The ad detailed the features of the lawn mower: “will cut narrow borders and will perfectly cut low terraces. Runs perfectly silent; easily operated.”
This was a time when suburban homes took pride in an English lawn. A machine to keep the lawn trim certainly found an audience among the gardeners who read this catalog.
Such advertising became national since people around the country wanted a lawn mover. In 1906 Truman A. DeWeese wrote The Principles of Practical Publicity, an early volume on the success of advertising. He said, “”The manufacturer now creates a demand for the goods through advertising.”
The ad in its own quiet way also sold Victorian values, like the showy garden vase.