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Nineteenth Century Garden Catalogs Sold Vases

The garden vase played an important role in the late nineteenth century Victorian garden.

Nurseries and seed companies, like Rochester’s James Vick, sold such garden ornaments along with their plants and seeds.  Illustrations of the garden vase appeared among the ads in the back of the catalog

Sometimes the same manufacturer supplied seed companies and nurseries with its products, including such vases.

An advertisement in Vick's Floral Guide 1880
An advertisement in Vick’s Floral Guide 1880

Therese O’Malley writes in her book Keywords in American Landscape Design, “The term vase typically referred to a free-standing, symmetrical vessel having a wider mouth than foot…In the context of the designed landscape, treatise writers often strongly recommended that the vase be placed on top of a pedestal or plinth so that it would be easily visible.”

Vick’s catalog of 1880 called Vick’s Floral Guide included an advertisement for an outdoor garden vase. [above]. The vase dimensions were 18″ in diameter with 25″ in height.

The vase resembles O’Malley’s description of such an ornament for the nineteenth century garden.

The ad from Vick’s catalog referred to the vase as a “Highland Garden Stone Vase.”  The manufacturer, as listed in Vick’s ad, was Joseph Willett from Boston.

The Parker and Wood Seed Company, also in Boston, included a similar ad in its catalog of 1886. [below] The words at the top of the ad read “Highland Stone Vases”.

Notice the “No. 16” vase  at the top left is identical to Vick’s vase in his ad, where it is also referred to as “No 16.” The vase number was probably the manufacturer Willett’s number.

Back cover of W&V, circa 1880
Back cover of the Parker and Wood Seed Company catalog of 1886

The Parker and Wood Company ad did not mention the Willett Company as the manufacturer.  However, it included the recommendation of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association at the top of the ad with the words “Commended for smoothness of finish and uniformity of color.”

Each of these two seed companies sold the same urn, at the same price,  to help gardeners keep up with the garden fashion of the time, a garden vase on the lawn.

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