The National Nurseryman 2(5): 55-56 (June 1894)
Rochester, NY


Jacob Moore, of Attica, formerly of Brighton, N.Y., the well-known originator of the Brighton grape, some time ago gave his views on the methods which have been adopted to secure the dissemination of the "products of nature." Many are familiar with those views. For the benefit of those who are not, the opinion of Mr. Moore is reproduced herewith:

"It has occurred to me to recount some of the notorious swindles in horticulture caused by the lack of exclusive rights to new productions. After the Isabella grape had been generally disseminated, it was named Payne's Early and sold as a new variety earlier than Isabella. Being 'a product of nature,' there being no law against so doing, why should not the grower put money in his pocket by such means? Eureka was another name given to it at Attica, N.Y. That the Isabella has been frequently introduced under new names is shown by the fact that horticultural authorities mention as many as sixteen synonyms. Catawba has also been renamed many times for the purpose of introducing it as a new variety. After the advent of the Concord, the Maine grape and Chapman's Seedling were heralded in the state of Maine as seedlings earlier and better. Thousands of vines were sold at high prices by this means, but in the course of a few years they were generally recognized as old Concord. Being 'a product of nature' and the dissemination thereof free, there being no law to prevent renaming it, why should not the propagators put money in their pockets in that way? When the Worden grape was introduced certain well-known horticulturists proclaimed it to be Concord. Doubtless previous deceptions had put them on the alert for frauds. They were mistaken this time, however, as the Worden, although of the same color and a seedling of the Concord, proved to be a distinct variety, earlier and larger. The announcement, however, that it was identical had the effect to lessen the demand for the vines and thus injured the originator, who is reported to have received no compensation for it. When it was proved to be distinct and valuable much of the demand for it was supplied, as at first by substituting Concord, labeled Worden. Being 'a product of nature,' and the dissemination thereof free, the nurserymen had a right to publish the name and description in their catalogues, whether they had a stock of the plants or not. As a consequence, agents and dealers took orders for them. The nurserymen had plenty of the Concord, and as the two varieties are much alike, 'what harm to substitute that labeled Worden?' This was accordingly done by unscrupulous nurserymen and dealers to an extent that only the judgment day will reveal. The same game was played with the Brighton on an equally extensive scale. This grape was produced by an enthusiast named Moore, while a resident of Brighton, N.Y. It was the result of two crosses, the first being from seed of the Diana fertilized with Black Hamburgh, in the year i860. The best result of the cross was named Diana Hamburgh, which was a magnificent failure. Magnificent because so large, handsome, and good; a failure, because the foliage was liable to mildew and the vine was not sufficiently hardy. The originator was disappointed, but persevered. He recrossed the Diana Hamburgh with the Concord, and the Brighton grape was the result. He sold the variety to the introducer for less than it cost him, as he had not the means to introduce it himself. The introducer, although fully aware that many parties were swindling the public by means of false labels, was powerless to prevent them, because the variety was 'merely a product of nature, the sale of which must be free and unrestricted.'

"When the Cherry currant first appeared its sale throughout the United States was a swindle of such magnitude that it may properly be termed national. It was first imported from France. The nurserymen with few exceptions, published the name and description in their catalogues in hot haste when there was but a small stock of plants in the country. Immediately the demand for the plants was far greater than the supply and the usual artifice of false labels was resorted to by many parties. What tree agent has not heard the story of the Cherry currant swindle enough times to make him feel sick at his stomach? It is about as follows: 'A tree agent came around here some years ago with a picture book. The picture of the Cherry currant he showed me was so large and handsome, I thought the sort must be worth having, and ordered some plants. I took good care of them and they grew well, but the fruit proved to be nothing but the common little red currant, which I already had. He gave my neighbors the same treatment. I believe I won't buy anything in your line today.'

"The introduction of the Clapp's Favorite pear afforded another opportunity to fleece the public, which was not lost by unscrupulous parties in the trade Many nurserymen published it in their catalogues when they had no stock, and the usual consequences followed. The new variety was reported to be a cross between the Bartlett and Flemish Beauty. Of course years elapsed before many purchasers found out they had not the 'product of nature' they bought.

"The Golden Queen strawberry was another swindle. It was advertised and sold extensively under that name as a new sort, but was soon identified as the ancient variety, Trollope's Victoria.

"Several years ago, one of the introducers of the grape named Empire State told me 'thousands and thousand of vines had been sold by other parties for that variety which were not genuine.' This 'product of nature' came from seed of Hartford Prolific pollenized by Clinton, by J. H. Ricketts of Newburgh, N.Y., who is reported to have received four thousand dollars cash for the entire stock of the variety. The late H. E. Hooker, nurseryman at Rochester, N.Y., who had ample opportunity to estimate the cost of the originator's experiments in obtaining the variety, told me he thought he had not profited by its sale.

"A favorite trick of unscrupulous parties in the trade is to substitute the Queen of Prairie rose for some new, rare variety under the name of the latter. The former makes strong plants which give satisfaction when delivered. The variety being a 'product of nature, it is not desirable that anyone should have a monopoly in its sale.'

"The Early Rose potato is reported to have been disseminated without the consent of the producer, and as a consequence he did not obtain compensation for it. Being a mere 'product of nature,' there was no law by which he could obtain redress.

"The number of synonyms by which most of our popular fruits are known in different sections of the country, as recorded in Downing's work on fruits, shows that the right of a free-born American horticulturist to rename an old, well-known variety and perchance swindle the people by such means, has not been neglected. Many seedsmen have made a practice of renaming vegetable seeds. 'Being a prodó,' but methinks I hear some reader say, cease to iterate that phrase, I pray. I suspect it would be more correct to say, the improved new variety in most instances is the result of the skill and labor of man acting jointly with nature.

"The idea entertained by many persons that the American people have always obtained such productions free, is like that of the tramp who walks many miles a day under the impression he is not working. A large part of the population have paid amounts which aggregate millions for plants of celebrated new varieties without obtaining them. Again, they have paid millions for worthless novelties which perchance many did obtain.

"How can these evils be remedied? By a law making the trial of all new varieties at the experiment stations compulsory before allowing them to be introduced, in order to determine if they are really new and have merit. Further, the law should guarantee to the originator that in case plants or cuttings of the variety are stolen from him or the experiment station and disseminated in that way, the stock shall be confiscated wherever found. The principal inducement for stealing new varieties, so frequently practiced, would then no longer exist. In addition, the originator should be given the exclusive right to disseminate his production under the name. This would give him the opportunity to remunerate himself, which is now lacking, and he in turn would protect the people in its purchase in order to protect himself in its sale."