Four Sources of Vintage Seed Packets Inspiration

Digital Color Postmarks

Each envelope in this set of ten First Day Covers bears an affixed Vintage Seed Packets stamp and a First Day of Issue color postmark. Click the image for details.

Aren’t the Vintage Seed Packets stamps beautiful? According to Dr. Irwin Richman, author of Seed Art: the Package Made Me Buy It, the first seed catalog using color plates was issued in 1853. Since then, the illustrations in catalogs and on seed packages—from the original hand-painted pictures to modern photographs—have encouraged gardeners to believe that they, too, can grow the same luscious, perfect blossoms.

If you can’t get enough of these pictures of botanical perfection, we’ve found some online resources to inspire you even more:

  • The Smithsonian Institution has an extensive collection of vintage seed catalogs. Its online exhibit holds 500 illustrations from more than 250 catalogs. You can browse by company or by the kind of flower, fruit, or vegetable you want to see. The exhibit also includes examples of vintage seed-catalog cover art featuring everything from farms to fairs, seed stores to ships.
  • The National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland, holds a collection of more than 200,000 American and international seed catalogs. The catalogs date from the late 1700s, and its online exhibit includes a few examples from that time. However, the beautifully illustrated catalogs begin with examples from 1876.
  • Fascinated by the history of seed catalogs? The Oregon State University Libraries’ Special Collections Division has a wonderful illustrated exhibit that explores the history of the catalogs in the U.S. and Europe.
  • The Labelman, an online store that specializes in antique seed packets—as well as labels from crates and cans—offers a wealth of information on its website, including a brief history and tips on decorating with the vintage art.

Have fun exploring! And don’t forget that spring seed catalogs should be arriving in your mailbox soon, offering the same garden dreams as their vintage ancestors.

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About USPS Stamps

The Postal Service™ is proud of its role in portraying the American experience to a world audience through the issuance of postage stamps and postal stationery. Each year the Postal Service issues commemorative stamps reflecting subjects of national significance and appeal. More than 160 years of stamp development has yielded an incredible archive of imagery and commentary reflecting American culture and society. Even in this fast-changing world, stamps are still a versatile and convenient method of postage. And stamp collecting is a lifetime hobby that is fun and educational for all ages. Stamp collecting is easy to start without a big investment. It is also a great way to learn about the world and its many wonders, opening the door to an exciting universe of history, science, geography, the arts, technology, and sports. Our mission is to provide universal service that is prompt, reliable, efficient, affordable, and self-sustaining. Throughout its history the Postal Service has grown with the nation, binding it together by ensuring that everyone, everywhere, has the same ability to communicate regardless of technological change.

One thought on “Four Sources of Vintage Seed Packets Inspiration

  1. The Post Office MUST stay viable! We MUST support it!!! Just look up all of the beautiful, artsy, historical, patriotic, commemorative Stamps!!!!!!!!

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