Original Document
Original Document
“The Seed Industry: Its History and Development,” The Courier, Bristol, PA, 1915.

Philadelphia is recognized as the oldest and perhaps the foremost seed market in America. More than a century and a quarter ago there was established in Philadelphia the original Landreth seed business. This firm was founded by David Landreth and has passed down through generation after generation until the present day. The firm is now located Bristol, Pa., and enjoys the distinction of being a member of an organization of century-old concerns.
Eastern Pennsylvania has contributed much more than the several firms who have engaged in the seed business. Men trained in her many establishments have gone out to all sections of the country. These trained men have been in great demand by seed concerns in various sections. Some have gone to the Agricultural Department at Washington, others have engaged in the seed business for themselves, while others have given their knowledge and effort to build up other organizations in the same line.
Go where you will, visit any seed concern, and in almost every one you will find a man who at some time or other in his career has had a portion of his training in Philadelphia. So that while living the oldest and also the leading seed market of America, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have left their mark on all sections where the seed industry has been developed to any considerable extent.
Philadelphia has more successful concerns engaged in the seed business than any other city in the United States, regardless of size. Such firms as Landreth, Burpee, Buist, Dreer, Maule, Michell, Johnson, Stokes, Moore, Simon, Ely, Waterer and Mingle all enjoy splendid businesses built up along individual lines.
The Henry A. Dreer business, founded many years ago, has grown to be one of the world's largest nursery and seed concerns.
Robert Buist built up one of the most successful businesses in Philadelphia and died a very wealthy man.
Wm. Henry Maule developed a great business as a mail-order seedsman, and since his death the business has been conducted by an organization of his former associates and is to-day known as Wm. Henry Maule, Inc.
In the house of Burpee, Philadelphia has the world's greatest mail-order seed business. This wonderful business has been built about a single idea of right service and a direct deal between grower and planter.
In order to describe to our readers the growth of the seed industry, we have singled out the firm of VV. Atlee Burpee & Co., briefly describing the methods and operations which have made his firm such a success.
W. Atlee Burpee & Co. was established in 1876 by W. Atlee Burpee, whose broad-minded personality is alone responsible for the development of a business from a very modest beginning to a vast organization, owning its own farms in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California, and employing hundreds of men and women.
Thousands of acres in many countries contribute their share to the enormous stocks of iced handled by the house of Burpee.
It is said that this concern sends its crop inspectors into sections that aggregate more than thirty thousand miles of travel each year. This is merely a detail of this ideal service which becomes even more apparent when one considers this house does not send a single mile to solicit an order.
A trip to Fordhook Farms, America's greatest trial grounds, convinces the visitor that this concern spares no expense to give the best service possible. The thousands of trials, made for the sole purpose of knowing the character of every stock sold, as well as the vitality, enables the house of Burpee to sell only the best seeds of known quality.
An inspection of the great warehouses in Philadelphia shows hundreds of employees busy on the thousands of orders that come in daily in season. The latest equipment in machinery furnishes accuracy in detail in the matter of packing the seeds, while bright, cheery quarters contribute their share in giving Burpee service to the many thousands of customers.
Every comfort is provided for the workers — rest rooms, reading rooms, all the latest magazines and papers, a dining room where a lunch of the best quality may be purchased for a few cents, umbrellas in case of rain, first aid if accidents occur, are just a part of the service building policy.
W. Atlee Burpee & Co. have customers in almost every country in the world. In 1914 they distributed more than a million catalogs, which in itself required an outlay of $30,000 to $35,000 for postage alone. These catalogs required almost half a million pounds of paper.
This concern maintains a printing plant that prints millions of seed bags, labels, etc.
The machines that fill and seal the packets are almost human in their precision and much faster than hand work.
Many articles have been written about this business, but none is better than the tribute of the late Elbert Hubbard when he wrote in " The Fra": "If there is any one man in America, more than another, who is making the waste places green and the desert to blossom like the rose, that man is W. Atlee Burpee, seedsman
magnus, gentleman superbus."
So that we of Pennsylvania are justly proud of the development of the seed business; we are proud of America's oldest seed establishment; we are proud of the world's greatest mail-order seed business, for we recognize that agriculture is the fundamental source of all wealth; and realizing the very important part played by the seedsman, we are proud to be recognized as one of the leading States in this great business of seeds.

Credit: Burpee (W. Atlee) Company, Forty Years of Burpee Service--Anniversary Supplement (Philadelphia: W. Atlee Burpee & Co., 1915), 43-46.
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