Must. Stop. Pinning. Vintage seed packet and seed catalogue art. That’s right, antique seed packages and catalogues are a thing, and they’re charming and beautiful.
As I continue to wait for winter to let go its hold on my region, one way I keep my inner gardener satisfied is by pinning gorgeous full-colour images of vintage seed packages and catalogues on Pinterest. A lot of them.
The earliest seed packets were created around 1812, when the idea of marketing small amounts of seed to home gardeners took hold. When the chromolithographic process was developed around 1840, it revolutionized the print world, allowing bright colours to replace less appealing black and white printing.
Seed packets feature soft ballerina-hued sweet peas and extravagantly ruffled pansies. Nasturtiums are striped and etched, smirking pea pods walk hand-in hand, and fluffy poppies are billed with typical Victorian hyperbole as “The finest double poppies grown”. All this in an effort to lure would-be gardeners to purchase more seeds.
And apparently, Victorians felt fruits and vegetables are people too, as shown by these hilariously personified seed catalogue/art card illustrations featuring dapper carrots, a grumpy peach, and two pea pods taking a stroll.
These lovely packets, seed catalogue covers and art cards from the Victorian and Edwardian eras are highly collectible, with those in pristine condition being most prized. Their elaborate typography, embellishments and curlicues, and brilliantly coloured flower and vegetable images make for perfect winter browsing over a cup of tea. They encourage me to break out my seed collection and nestle tiny seeds into dark soil. Then the breathless wait for the first tiny green sprout to push its head above the dirt. Who can resist?
If you’ve developed a craving to view more of these small envelopes, simply Google. Go on, I’ll wait… Now that you’re back, have you been bitten by the collecting bug? They’re easy to find on Ebay, Etsy and Amazon. Reproductions are also very popular for home and garden decor and wedding favours.
Pinterest enthusiasts can go down the rabbit hole and view vintage seed packets and catalogues, links to old garden sites, images to inspire your own antique-style gardens, and more on the Yesterday’s Gardener board. Happy pinning!