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A Shumway Seed Catalog Recently Arrived in the Mail

A couple of weeks ago I received a new seed catalog from R. H. Shumway’s in Randolph, Wisconsin.

A seed catalog with that venerable name Shumway first appeared almost a century and a half ago.

The catalog I received reflected the nineteenth century look. Quite a treat to see.  Its 10 1/2 by 15 inch size made it a large catalog for the mail.  Called an “Illustrated Garden Guide” the catalog offered many seed varieties with period illustrations.

The catalog amazed me because the company owners took such care in reproducing that Victorian style of design.

Then I remembered a quote that I once read in a nineteenth century Shumway catalog.

Seedsman and Civil War veteran Roland H. Shumway in his catalog of 1887 discussed how he would like to be remembered: “Good Seeds Cheap! is my motto; and has been ever since I left the tented field as a soldier, and staked the few remaining years of my busy life, in an earnest endeavor, to place good seeds within reach of poorest planters. I will further inform you how we strive to do you good, and not disappoint you. From the beginning of the new year, until after spring planting, my industrious employees work 16 hours, and myself and family 18 or more hours a day. Are we not surely knights at labor? How can we do more? Do we not deserve the patronage of every planter in America?”

Roland H. Shumway (1842-1925)

With  a plea framed in such a stellar work ethic, how could any reader not send for some of Mr. Shumway’s seeds?

And so the company continued for generations, up to its reincarnation today.


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