We're welcoming the return of tomato season today with this illustration of "three luscious tomatoes", sourced from the 1924 issue of Burpee’s Farm Annual (also known as Burpee’s Annual, Burpee’s Annual Garden Book, Burpee’s Seeds, and Burpee Gardens), published by W. Atlee Burpee & Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia became an early center for American commercial horticulture as early as 1784, when David and Cuthbert Landreth in Philadelphia founded founded the D. Landreth Seed Company, America’s oldest seed company, which introduced the zinnia, the white potato, various tomatoes and Bloomsdale spinach to America.
Almost one hundred years later, an 18-year old Philadelphian by the name of Washington Atlee Burpee would follow in their footsteps and those of other local commercial horticulturalists, when, in 1877, he began transitioning his newly founded mail-order poultry and livestock company into mail-order garden seed business. By the time of Burpee's death in 1915, it had grown to become the largest seed company in the world, employing 300 people, circulating 1 million catalogs each year, and handling 10,000 orders a day.
This catalog is part of Hagley Library’s Trade Catalog collection, along with issues of the same from 1897, 1883-1884, 1886-1889, 1891-1902, 1904-1916, 1917-1961, and 1963 through the 1970s.