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By the End of the Nineteenth Century Garden Catalogs Sent across America in the Millions

Catalogs were the major sales tool for the seed companies and nurseries in the nineteenth century.

By the end of the century improved printing, cheap mail delivery, and the railroads made the publication and distribution of catalogs much easier for the garden industry.

In their book Victorian Gardens: A Horticultural Extravaganza authors James R. Buckler and Kathryn Meehan write: “By the turn of the century, some seedsman were distributing as many as several hundred thousand catalogs a year to customers throughout the world.”

John Lewis Childs catalog of 1890
John Lewis Childs catalog of 1890 [Courtesy of the Floral Park Historical Society]
The Childs Company from New York sent out 750 catalogs in 1875, but by 1896 the number had increased to 1,115,000.  The garden industry had truly become a modern business, just like any other, with its appeal to a mass audience, spread across the country from California to Maine.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I love the cover art of these catalogs. It seems that the artists pushed their creative boundaries since photography was not an option.

    1. Mario, I agree the covers are truly a work of art. When photography came, chromos left the scene for the most part. Too bad.
      Full day in the garden today. So happy about that. Weather couldn’t be more ideal.

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