This week’s snapshot of an artifact not on display but contained within the archives of the Smithsonian Institution is that of a W. Atlee Burpee & Company Seed catalog. This seed catalog is from the W. Atlee Burpee & Co., which was founded in Philadelphia in 1876 by Washington Atlee Burpee, an 18-year-old with a passion for plants and animals—and a mother willing to lend him $1,000 of “seed money” to start his business.
The seed trade catalogs document the history of the seed and agricultural business in the United States; they also provide a history of botany and plant research such as the introduction of plant varieties into the country. The Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ trade catalog collection includes about 10,000 seed and nursery catalogs dating from 1830 to the present.
This, I don’t just like. i love. The fonts, the illustration, and vintage seed catalogs? It’s like pin-up gardening.