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No Room for Error

national pardon
by kire

Article by David Bunch

If a mistake was made, especially in price, it was a serious matter indeed. The actual writing of the All-America Seed Catalog might have been done by one man, but it represented the collaboration of perhaps a dozen individuals. The writing of t h e copy would start in August and would continue through the autumn months, with continual revisions to keep it up to date. Maybe there would be a short crop, or a total failure, of a certain variety. A new introduction may be held up until the following year, thus making important changes in the catalog necessary. Photographs and colored illustrations would be made or arranged for, and all copy would have to be carefully written and cut to fit the exact space on the page where it was to appear in. The paper shortage seriously affected the horticultural industry, as it had many other businesses. Catalog pages had to be curtailed, and the number of copies printed limited.

There had even been a shortage of paper for seed packets. Considering the basic need for the seed business, it was unfortunate that seeds men had to fight to get materials to keep their establishments going. One nursery even offered to buy back its catalog for redistribution. When a single concern distributed as many as a million catalogs, it would be seen how important the publication was as a silent salesman. When the catalogs were published, they made fascinating reading. Full of good news, too! How refreshing it was to read something that was full of optimism and constructive ideas; never a negative note! After a quarter of an hour of catalog-browsing, one felt that, armed with a spade, a hoe and a few dollars worth of “Bumper Crop Seeds,” one could go out and grow enough to feed all the starving Germans, Poles, Russians, and a few other lesser nations thrown in.

And the quality! Such succulent peas, such sugar-sweet corn; what wonderful watermelons; flowers all visions of delight. Bugs, blights, and the other hazards of the home-gardener were rarely mentioned. But that is pardonable. After all, there was no place for pessimism in the philosophy of the farmer. If he worried about what might happen to his crops before he planted them, the chances were he would not plant at all. The good seedsman had to be a good salesman or he would not stay in business. And his catalog was his show window.

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