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The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada
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GH
Battle Ground, WA
91 Posts
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1
January 16, 2020 - 10:31 pm

There is a recently-published seven-volume set of books, "The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada", that includes 1,400 apple watercolors from USDA’s Pomological Watercolor Collection.  The seven books are on sale for $150 (originally $320), with shipping either included or $30.  Apparently there won't be any more printings.  I don't know how any apple fanatic (I prefer aficionado) could keep from drooling over this set. 

 

https://www.jakkawpress.com

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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2
January 18, 2020 - 9:56 pm

Looks great, but you still have to pay the mortgage and the electric bill.

John S
PDX OR

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
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3
February 2, 2020 - 7:33 pm

I was aware of the work on this book perhaps three years ago or so.  At the prices that were being mentioned at the time it was a reference that I felt I'd have to by-pass.  However, now at a rough half-price I figured that I oughta get it given my interest in apple cultivars.  The project seems to have had some sad, difficult beginnings and endings (--details of which I won't go into--), but I feel like I need to have a hard copy as reference in order to assess its usefulness and accuracy first-hand.

The price is a chunka change for someone like me, but I finally broke down a month-and-a-half ago and purchased "Pommiers a cidre", the book by Bore & Fleckinger (1997) on French cider apples.  It was pricey, but I'm glad that I got it.  It's an excellent (though, of course, incomplete) book on the traditional cider apples in France.  It can only include a limited number, so the majority are those still predominantly used at the time of publication.  There are countless other French apples used regionally and locally for hard cider, but this book provides information on a reasonable number that are still in use and available.

It always hurts when a good reference book that one desires is priced "prohibitively", but there is no substitute for a good reference book.  I need to get this in order to assess it.

Someone will have to correct me on this, but was it Erasmus who said something like:  "When I have money, I buy books.  If I have any left over, I buy food and clothing...."

Reinettes (Tim).

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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4
February 2, 2020 - 9:26 pm

That's a great quote.  I have been helped tremendously by books, especially about gardening.  Most of the time, my clothes look pretty bad.  However, most of the people mocking me also are asking me for money at the end of the month, and asking, "How can you afford to have so many fruit trees in your yard?"

John S
PDX OR

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
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5
February 11, 2020 - 6:16 pm

Well, my 7-volume set arrived today.  It'll take me a number of weeks or months to assess its accuracy, but on first glance it appears to surpass my expectations.  Volume 1 is apples from A to B.  As a preliminary test, the first entry that I looked up was 'Bennett Seedling'.  So far, so good.  

The volumes have good-looking hardcovers that seem to have reasonably sturdy bindings which should hold-up to frequent use.  In my cursory overview, the information and editing appear to be good-quality.  I hate to sound like someone looking a horse in the mouth, but nowadays there are soooo many books published that aren't worth the paper that they're printed on.  This looks like it should be a quality reference.  I look forward to using it, assessing it, and annotating it over time.  As for synonymy, it appears that it could have used a bit more reference to continental European pomological literature, but I'm giving it a pass for now; it appears that it will be worth its weight.

GH -- Thank you very much for your original post on the discounted price, and for turning me on to other good books.  

John S. --  When anyone whines about the money that you spend on fruiting plants, let them know that these are "the gifts that keep on giving."  Most purchases made today will be in landfill 20-30 years from now.... (--My wife says "Two to three years,"... and she's the optimist!)  On this planet, there are still acquisitions worth making!

Reinettes (Tim.)

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GH
Battle Ground, WA
91 Posts
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6
February 15, 2020 - 6:06 pm

I received my 7-volume set on February 12th, and as mentioned above, the books are lovely.  Aside from the reference to continental European pomological literature, of which I'm not competent to state an opinion, I whole-heartedly agree with Reinettes' critique.  

What a labor of love this collection must have been, and what a great contribution to the apple world.  At less than $22 per book, it's a good price; and unlike a restaurant dinner, it will last a lifetime.

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
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7
February 19, 2020 - 6:07 pm

GH,

I've now had a week to work through the various volumes.  In assessing it, I have to keep reminding myself of the parameters of the project:  It isn't meant to be an encyclopedia, but is meant to accumulate and record historical, published North American data regarding apples in the literature of the U.S. and Canada.  I've acquired other references that provide additional data that I can refer to when a particular cultivar has an origin outside of North America.  In general, I've found the occasional typographical error (--often a letter added or one deleted--), but I have to say that I'm very pleased with my purchase and find it to be of exceptional quality. 

There is no substitute for a good reference book that is a real, physical, book that one owns and can pass onto others when the artifice and impermanence of the internet is long dead.  🙂   If it doesn't physically exist, it might as well not exist!

Reinettes.

(Existing in the physical world.)

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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8
February 23, 2020 - 7:40 pm

Hey Reinettes,

Glad to hear that there is a meat space person over there.  At first I was worried that you might be a hologram.  I also like physical books, particularly of those things that I am going to pick up again and again.

John S
PDX OR

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
(Offline)
9
February 26, 2020 - 4:26 pm

John,

You will never find me paying for a book that I don't own, and which can only be read on a computer screen.  Modern technology, coupled with people who have more money than they know what to do with, has resulted in a society that is unrecognizable to me.  I've been around wonderful people who live in literal shacks, with no closeable windows, and whose floors are literally packed earth.  Those are folks who understand what's most vital.  In comparison, my ability to purchase desired reference books is a mad luxury.  I am truly blessed as an American.

...And as for clothes, I wear them until they literally wear-out.  My wife and I were in a large shopping mall a couple of days ago to pick up new prescription glasses and I walked past windows with mannequins sporting torn jeans....  Jeans -- which I buy new -- I thoroughly wear-out myself.  I couldn't help wondering just how much my old, worn-out jeans would sell for in one of those shops. ... and just that fact, that people buy such things at retail price, offended me as someone who knows "how the other half" lives.

Sorry.  Don't mean to wax philosophical, but just being able to buy rootstocks and acquire scionwood for fruit-tree varieties that I desire is, without doubt, a luxury.

I think that it's time for Americans to revert to a people who give a damn about others....

Reinettes (Tim.... not being able to shut up....)

P.S. -- I'm just a concerned citizen.  Please don't take this politically.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
(Offline)
10
March 1, 2020 - 3:27 pm

I still can't decide if I should buy this book.  Maybe I will - it's a good way to indulge my pomological obsession without buying and planting more trees that I can't take care of and that deer will eat.  I don't think deer will eat the book.  Laugh

By the way, here is a link to that USDA Pomological Watercolor collection.  It's a good way to view those watercolors, although it's not as nice as holding a book in your hands. 

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
(Offline)
11
March 1, 2020 - 3:38 pm

John S said
That's a great quote.  I have been helped tremendously by books, especially about gardening.  Most of the time, my clothes look pretty bad.  However, most of the people mocking me also are asking me for money at the end of the month, and asking, "How can you afford to have so many fruit trees in your yard?"

John S
PDX OR  

John, I bet it's partly because you grafted them yourself!  Plus, How the cost of fruit is far more than a tree.  At say, 50¢ an apple, 30 apples a year is $15 benefit, and over 10 years that's $150.  The tree cost far less than that, and most produce far more apples than that.  If you grafted free scion onto $5 rootstock, it's even better.Smile

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
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12
March 3, 2020 - 6:16 pm

DanielW said

...By the way, here is a link to that USDA Pomological Watercolor collection.  It's a good way to view those watercolors, although it's not as nice as holding a book in your hands....

DanielW,

The outstandingly reproduced illustrations from the USDA Pomological collection in this multi-volume book is the icing on the cake.  Sadly, so many of the apples illustrated in it are now -- almost without doubt -- extinct.  Nevertheless, the apple illustrations help to provide images of some of the wonderful diversity of apple varieties which were of interest or of savoring in the past.  

The quality of the apple illustrations in the collection varies over time, and by individual artist, but -- I must say -- I have my favorites among the various illustrators of the era.  My favorite is, without doubt, Royal Charles Steadman.  His apple illustrations suggest to me that his work was "photorealistic" before there even was a term for that kind of painting:  True artistry melded with the eye of a naturalist.

I cannot praise his artistry sufficiently.

Reinettes (Tim)

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
(Offline)
13
March 4, 2020 - 4:29 pm

John S said :
Glad to hear that there is a meat space person over there.  At first I was worried that you might be a hologram.

John S.,

I am not a hologram.  John S., I am not a holo.  John S., I am not.  John S., I am no--

*click*  Please deposit a quarter.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
(Offline)
14
March 4, 2020 - 6:23 pm

Well, too bad the authors don't give you guys a commission.  I ordered the set.  Something to look through, especially next winter, that does not have an "order" button.  I do love old botanical illustrations, and I love reading pomological history.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
(Offline)
15
March 7, 2020 - 1:25 pm

OK.  The books have arrived.  It is certainly a comprehensive series so far as varieties.  I don't think it's all that readable in terms of the history, but some is good.   More of a list of facts.  Also, for some of the apple varieties that I know the histories from other books, I think the descriptions in this series are much more brief.

Still, this is a list of an incredible number of apple cultivars.  Very impressive.  I will peruse these books for a long time to come.  It's quite nice to have the illustrations in a book, rather than just online.

I already have "Apples of Uncommon Character" by Rowan Jacobsen, "Apples of North America" by Tom Burford, and Apples for the 21st Century" by Warren Manhart.  I think those are more engaging and readable, especially the first two, with a lot of history too, but nowhere close to as comprehensive.  Also, "The New Book of Apples" by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards with descriptions of 2,000 varieties and good historical narrative.  I'm just starting that one.  I probably have too many apple, and other fruit, books now.  

I think each of these books and series has a place for the obsessed amateur pomologist.  

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buzzoff
84 Posts
(Offline)
16
September 17, 2020 - 5:04 am

Well, I like books.  And, one fifty for a set of books like that, is a pretty good deal.  Maybe I'll do it, maybe not.  But, I'll definitely prod my local library to buy a set.

Thing is, nothing beats tasting the apples.

Many is the tree (fruit untasted) that I have planted, and later I gave away or removed.  

Lodi, or whatever it was....gone.  Wasn't wild about Coxe's Orange, though perhaps I judged prematurely.  Let my Gravenstein go; yes great, but very familiar and a poor keeper.  My Kikasui gone (like a crunchy Cucumber tree).  My Shinko; OK but not great.  My Calville?  Didn't do well for me, proved to be a softish apple.... Not for me!

Gotta eat a couple of fruits(or more), to really understand the lay of the land.  Must be perfectly grown, and eaten at their peak.

Finally tasted Orlean's Rennette.  Liked it.  I want a tree.  Should have extracted the information from my conversations with Manhart, back about a million years ago, but there are so many apples...and so few tastings!

Folks rave about Hudson's Golden Gem.   Hoople's Antique Gold has a following.  Grimes Golden has a sterling reputation.  One of the new apples, Gold Rush, is getting chatter.   Some folks say good things about Wynoochie Extra Early.   Some claim Arkansas Black is worth a try; resists Codling Moth.  Haven't been able to taste any of them so far.  Though I suspect I may have tasted an unidentified Grimes Golden. 

Oh, I'm going on and on.  Anyway.  Thanks for the book news.   I've never heard of some of those titles.  It'll give me something to read, while I'm waiting for the world to change for the better again.

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