This post was written by Lynn Weinstein, a Business Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division.
“This is the Grape for the Million”
— quote from the broadside.
The Science, Technology & Business Division of the Library of Congress has acquired a broadside issued by Ephraim Wales Bull, the New England farmer who developed the Concord grape around 1849. Published in 1859, ten years after the original cultivation of the native fruit, this well preserved broadside advertises the original Concord grape with an illustration of a large woodcut of a bunch of dark, ripe grapes. Broadsides are single sheets printed on one side that served as public announcements or “broadcast” advertisements. This broadside is important to the Library’s collection for the history of agribusiness, as an advertisement, and as an image–particularly since their ephemeral nature meant that broadsides rarely lasted very long. The image has been digitized without any rights restrictions and is available to be freely used. It can be viewed in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Reading Room.
The Concord grape quickly became popular for its ability to grow in the cold New England climate, and for its versatility as a table and juice grape. Bull attempted to reclaim his share of the market for his grape by offering direct bulk sales of the vines, as advertised at the bottom of this broadside, but he never saw the fruits of his labor–his tombstone epitaph read: “He Sowed; Others Reaped.”
The upper half of the broadside has a large illustration of a bunch of Concord grapes, surrounded by text celebrating its features. The lower half of the sheet consists of testimonials from horticultural societies and publications:
As to the real merits of the variety, we are inclined to consider it a valuable acquisition. As a hardy vine, and an early, large and showy fruit for market, we shall not probably find any thing to compete at the North with the Concord Grape.
- The grape jelly that we most often think of in peanut butter & jelly sandwiches is of the Concord grape variety, and religious wines, including kosher wines are other products of the Concord grape. To research information about these industries, use our library guide Doing Industry Research: A Resource Guide.
- Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch developed a non-fermented grape juice for sacramental services at Methodist Churches. His son, Charles Edgar Welch partnered with him to create the Welch Grape Juice Company. Since 1952, the Welch’s Foods Inc. has been owned by the National Grape Cooperative Association, a co-op of grape growers.
Grape pie made from Concord grapes is a regional specialty dessert. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with an abundant amount of Concord grapes, you may want to check out these Concord grape pie and cobbler recipes.
If you are interested in more Business and Science topics, then subscribe to Inside Adams — it’s free!