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Collectible seed packets


Did you know seed packets can be collectible? I’ve written about many types of paper-based ephemera over the years – movie screenplays, letters, posters – but I’d never seen rare seed packets until today.

One of our booksellers, Oldimprints from Portland, Oregon, is listing some vintage seed packets for sale and, frankly, they are beautiful. The seed packets come from the Card Seed Company in Fredonia, N.Y. and are circa 1910. The bookseller writes:

The similarity of package design of these seed packets and those of another New York firm led to these packets never being used, due to the possibility of litigation. They were warehoused prior to World War I. The vividness of the colors is typical of chromolithography, a pre-photographic method of printing, now seldom used in commercial publication.

The seller is right, those colors are vivid. Today’s seed packets don’t compare. Seed packets have a long history crossing horticulture, retail and art as this Independent article shows.

Now here is a piece of seed packet trivia – did you know that the 1951 first edition of The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham came with a seed packet attached? Now that’s Mad Men-style marketing.

I wonder what the seeds were – I hope they were sunflowers because they’d at least give the illusion of ‘Triffidness’ for a few weeks before blooming.

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Richard Davies

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