Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Guide to the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Seed Industry and Trade

Collection ID:
Warshaw, Isadore, 1900-1969
circa 1831-1981
Physical Description:
9.87 Cubic feet
consisting of 21 boxes, 1 folder, 13 oversize folders, 7 map case folders.
A New York bookseller, Warshaw assembled this collection over nearly fifty years. The Warshaw Collection of Business Americana: Seed Industry and Trade forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Subseries 1.1: Subject Categories. The Subject Categories subseries is divided into 470 subject categories based on those created by Mr. Warshaw. These subject categories include topical subjects, types or forms of material, people, organizations, historical events, and other categories. An overview to the entire Warshaw collection is available here: Warshaw Collection of Business Americana

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
This material consists primarily of illustrated catalogues, bills/receipts, price lists, printed advertisements, advertising cards, almanacs, business cards, circulars, scattered correspondence on letterhead stationery, lithographs, seed packages, pamphlets and guides from companies involved in the seed industry and trade. These businesses include seed growers, merchants, nurseries, seed auctioneers, importers and exporters. The majority of these companies sold various types of field, garden and farm seeds mostly consisting of vegetables, flowers, fruits and herbs. Other types of seeds are bird and grass seeds. Bulbs, plants, gardening books, roses, ornamental trees, poultry food, shrubbery, fertilizers, agricultural and horticultural implements and machinery were also available. The agricultural and horticultural implements and machinery consist of ladies' and children's garden tools, hand weeders, seed sowers, horse hoes, eed drills, potato beetle destroyers, self-heating, soldering irons, showers, garden pumps, syringes, plant stakes, garden trellises, sun dials, pruners, fumigators, lawn mowers, knives, trowels, manure forks, furnaces, boilers, plows, harrows, wheelbarrows and corn planters. Diary implements such as thermometers, lactometers and scales appear occasionally.
There are a number of images included among these materials. The majority of these images are in catalogues illustrating fruits, vegetables and flowers. Seed packages are also profusely illustrated with products. Advertising cards generally depict products in a humorous setting. The most famous of these images are the vegetable people. Vegetables, fruits and flowers are depicted as people with such names as Miss Celery, Mr. Potato and Miss Carrot. Harvey Bros., R. D. Hawley, J. M. Phillips & Sons, Price & Knickerbocker, Jerome B. Rice, Charles Saul and Saul & Davis are among some of the businesses which used these advertising cards to sell their products. The subject category fertilizers also has some vegetable and fruit people. These vegetable people tend to use stereotypical images of various ethnic groups such as Native Americans as corn and African Americans as cotton.
Materials from associations and horticultural organizations such as the Luther Burbank Society are also included. Most of this material consists of membership information, pamphlets and monographs. Although most of the Luther Burbank Society's monographs discuss issues relating to the cultivation of plants, there are a number of these publications concerning what the society calls the "improvement of the human plant." Published in 1914, the monographs were not available for sale, instead they were issued to members of the Burbank society and to others only upon recommendation of members. Consisting of twelve titles in the series, which were issued monthly, topics included the laws of heredity, nurture versus nature, choosing children, bringing up the normal child, what to do with the sub-normal child, mental hygiene, the racial melting pot and the criminal type.
Most of the materials are organized by name of company and are in boxes one through eighteen. Generally publications and dates are listed under the company names. This does not imply that there are no other materials from that particular company. Box nineteen contains information on associations primarily the Burbank Society materials. Miscellaneous materials are also in box nineteen. These materials include information on fruit tree spraying, tree planting and Arbor Day, greenhouse heating and ventilating apparatus and general images. Related publications such as articles, booklets, pamphlets and books are found in boxes twenty through twenty-one. Such publications discuss topics relating to house plants, window gardens, food for plants, economic grasses, information on fertilizers and herbicides, evergreens in Scotland, flower gardens for country homes, chrysanthemums, common trees of New York and ornamental trees. These publications could not be identified with a company or association name and therefore are grouped together.

Vanessa Broussard-Simmons and Nicole Blechynden
Funding for partial processing of the collection was supported by a grant from the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund (CCPF).
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Seed Industry and Trade is a portion of the Business Ephemera Series of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Accession AC0060 purchased from Isadore Warshaw in 1967. Warshaw continued to accumulate similar material until his death, which was donated in 1971 by his widow, Augusta. For a period after acquisition, related materials from other sources (of mixed provenance) were added to the collection so there may be content produced or published after Warshaw's death in 1969. This practice has since ceased.
Processing Information
In 2016, with funding provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund, the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History implemented the use of minimal level processing standards to increase information about and facilitate access to more of our collections. A large portion of stored material from the original acquisition received minimal level processing, which resulted in additions to this Subject category. This effort included basic arrangement and replacement of non-archival housing for long-term stability, but staples and other fasteners have not all been removed. Revisions to the encoded finding aid were made to reflect the added content in context to the previously processed material.
Minimal level processing and enhancement of the machine-readable finding aid completed by Nicole Blechynden, September 2017.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation note
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana Subject Categories: Seed Industry and Trade, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Conditions Governing Access note
Collection is open for research. Some items may be restricted due to fragile condition.
Conditions Governing Use note
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Materials in the Archives Center
Materials in the Archives Center
Archives Center Collection of Business Americana (AC0404)

Forms Part Of

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Ephemera Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business ephemera Genre Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012