Broadcasting Seeds on the American Landscape



Prior to the nineteenth century, whatever planting was done by Americans (first colonists and then citizens) originated with seeds that were saved from previous plantings, traded informally both on the North American continent and across the Atlantic, or received as small gifts. By the end of the nineteenth century, over 800 companies had been formed (and some had already disbanded and merged into larger ones) to supply growers of all sorts with seeds.2 What changed? How did an object that farmers and gardeners could well produce themselves from year to year by letting a few plants reach maturity become a commodity? The answer to this question was, of course, a multifaceted narrative, but at the heart of that narrative were not words, but images. The prolific illustrated broadcasts of the seed trade were central to this complex process of commodification.


American History Seed Company Marketing Material Color Plate Visual Culture 
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© Elspeth H. Brown, Catherine Gudis, and Marina Moskowitz 2006

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