A peek into our collections, one object at a time

Carrot Man

May 12, 2017

Addthis Share Tools

carrot man
Trade card, C. Ribsam & Sons, Trenton, New Jersey, 1880s Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection

A New Meaning of Carrot Top

In the Victorian era, whimsical seed cards like this one featuring a monocle-wearing carrot man were all the rage, inspiring people not just to buy seeds but to collect the cards themselves.

Seed cards and nursery catalogs document the history of the seed and agricultural business in the U.S. These popular collectors’ items of the time document the era’s graphic arts in advertising and provide insight into how the evolution of American gardening has been shaped by history, social attitudes, the environment and new ideas.

Illustrating this history with books and other materials, the Smithsonian Libraries and Smithsonian Gardens are offering a special kind of garden tour in the exhibition “Cultivating America’s Gardens” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The exhibition will be open through August 2018.

More images of seed cards and catalogs are available from the Smithsonian Libraries’ seed and nursery catalog collection.