NARM Quarterly Spring 2019 - Page 2

This Spring issue of the NARM Quarterly features floral artwork from the late 1800's and early 1900's. While on the hunt for flowers to showcase on the cover we were surprised to discover the hidden treasures in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Smithsonian online archives. Pages and pages of beautifully designed floral and vegetable scenes were created in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by countess unsung artists for mail order seed and garden calendars, catalogs and packages. In the words of the Smithsonian archives:

"The real gems of the collection date from 1830 to the 1930's and are both beautiful and important publications that document the history of the seed and agricultural implement business and provide insight into the history of botany and plant research in the United States, through the introduction of plant varieties. Seed trade catalogs are also a window into the evolution of graphic arts in advertising and the changing fashions in flowers and vegetables.”

Front and back cover: Salzer John A., Seed Co. 1896. Catalogue of Plants and Seeds no. Spring 1896 (Damaged), Spring 1897, Spring 1898, Spring 1899, La Crosse WI. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Libraries

Dreer’s ‘Gold Medal’ Collection of Old Fashioned Hardy Flowers, Dreer’s Garden Calendar 1902. Henry A, Dreer, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Courtesy of ther U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library

Not only a wealth of visual delights, but historically significant and easily accessible to anyone, these beautiful plates also represent the treasures available in each of our NARM member institutions. NARM reciprocal benefits are a passport to discovery with countless exhibitions available across North America! We hope that when you prepare for spring break and summer vacations you will take some time to visit our participating institutions and discover some treasures of your own on your travels!

Virginia Phillippi

Executive Director

View the Smithsonian image library collection of seed and nursery catalogs at

View more Dreer's calendars and catalogs at