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Historical background information for varieties handed down from bygone days.

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Old August 5, 2015   #1
stevenkh1
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Default Need help, Carolyn - what happened to Feejee?

Hi Carolyn! From browsing thru a couple old seed catalogs, I see the Feejee tomato was intriduced around 1859. Do you know *who* put the Feejee out and secondly, do you know what happened to this variety? Like Boston Market, it seemed to vanish after a decade plus of popularity.

On a personal note, I hope you're feeling a bit better these days!

Thanks so much!

Steve
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Old August 5, 2015   #2
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Originally Posted by stevenkh1 View Post
Hi Carolyn! From browsing thru a couple old seed catalogs, I see the Feejee tomato was intriduced around 1859. Do you know *who* put the Feejee out and secondly, do you know what happened to this variety? Like Boston Market, it seemed to vanish after a decade plus of popularity.

On a personal note, I hope you're feeling a bit better these days!

Thanks so much!

Steve
If you go to this older thread in the Legacy Forum you will find out more info about Feegee.

http://tomatoville.com/showthread.ph...ack+Brandywine

As for boston market, the same question has been asked before and you might want to research it at the top of the page and when you do it's best to select posts rather than threads.

Hope that helps,

Carolyn
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Old August 5, 2015   #3
stevenkh1
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Yeah...I already read that thread (among others) and did a google books search. Once source says Feejee was large, red, oblate... another said it was pink... a 3rd source said it was shaped like an egg. Yet another source says Maupey used Feejee as one of the parents for his Superior variety...

I figured if anyone knew off the top of their head the real deal of Feejee and who introduced it before the Civil War, it would be you.
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Old August 6, 2015   #4
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Yeah...I already read that thread (among others) and did a google books search. Once source says Feejee was large, red, oblate... another said it was pink... a 3rd source said it was shaped like an egg. Yet another source says Maupey used Feejee as one of the parents for his Superior variety...

I figured if anyone knew off the top of their head the real deal of Feejee and who introduced it before the Civil War, it would be you.

I appreciate your high praise for my brain, but fact is I don't know it all, which may surprise you.

I hadn't read that thread in a long time and thought there was more info about Fegee there which has been spelled in many ways. And I have to doubt that Figi, Fiji, Feegee, Fegee was used as a parent for any variety knowing, as I thought I knew, that it was almost a pre-1800 variety/

One more place to look and that's Andy Smith's book about the development of the tomato, history, etc., b'c in the appendix he lists many of the older ones and history and whether extinct or not.

With my walker I have no way to get to that book right now, and besides, I'm sure you saw that Mischka bought idig and I'm now there as a Moderator as well as here. So busy beyond belief, way behind on answering PM's, e-mails, making progress on my to do list here at home. etc.

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Old August 6, 2015   #5
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I gotta admit, I am surprised - you're one of the leading experts on tomato varieties.

I just previewed Andy Smith's book and there's no mention of Feejee/Fiji (or any other alternate spelling).

I did see tho in a book authored in 1911 that the Feejee tomato was still around as there was a recipe using that specific tomato.

And I just discovered an old book from 1844 entitled "United States Exploring Expedition - Volume 3, Page 327 where it appears the Feejee is found on Tavea (one of the islands comprising the Fiji Islands):

https://books.google.com/books?id=MH...IVDEmSCh0oTwWC
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Old August 6, 2015   #6
stevenkh1
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And yes, the Feejee was introduced in 1859 and here's the specifics on this tomato:
source: Genessee Farmer: A Monthly Journal Devoted to Agriculture and Horticulture, Volumes 20-21 pg 125 (https://books.google.com/books?id=zp...feejee&f=false)
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Last edited by stevenkh1; August 6, 2015 at 01:52 PM.
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Old August 6, 2015   #7
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Last record of Feejee I can find is in a 1911 cook book where the recipe specifically calls for Feejee tomatoes, so Feejee - like Livingston's Acme - just disappeared after 50+ years of popularity. Hmmm...
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Old August 6, 2015   #8
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The recipe I mentioned above is from The New Home Cookbook by J. Fred Waggoner, 1911, pg 177.
source: https://books.google.com/books?id=bV...recipe&f=false
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Old August 6, 2015   #9
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Originally Posted by stevenkh1 View Post
And yes, the Feejee was introduced in 1859 and here's the specifics on this tomato:
source: Genessee Farmer: A Monthly Journal Devoted to Agriculture and Horticulture, Volumes 20-21 pg 125 (https://books.google.com/books?id=zp...feejee&f=false)
I really like the "a most sovereign remedy" part. Is the other variety mentioned still around?
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Old August 6, 2015   #10
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This sounds like a Library research project.

Which libraries are the most renowned in the horticultural world?
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Old August 6, 2015   #11
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This sounds like a Library research project.

Which libraries are the most renowned in the horticultural world?
It depends on what you are looking for and how much patience you have, and which languages you know, at least in my opinion.

And I wouldn't restrict myself to just libraries since many countries maintain seed banks with important information about varieties.

It also depends on which specific tomatoes you are looking for in terms of when they were known to be in circulation.

Vladimir, a member here has been very helpful in that regard in discussing info from the Czech Seed bank. Clara from Germany in terms of Gerhard Bohl's collection, the German Seed bank at Gatersleben, and several others.

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Old August 6, 2015   #12
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I just previewed Andy Smith's book and there's no mention of Feejee/Fiji (or any other alternate spelling).

$$$$$$$

And how did you preview his book, asking how much did you see of the book, and were you able to see the appendix that I've been referring to?

As I said above I have no way of getting to his book right now but I was able to get to my paperback of the Vilmorin Seed Co ( France, English edition) 1885 edition and here's what I found.

Large Red Tomato (Tomate Rouge Grosse, English synonyms Large Red Italian, Orangefield,Mammoth, or Figi Island Tomato.

Followed by a complete description of plant habit and fruit characteristics.

I was also able to get to the book by Fearing Burr, the 1883 edition, and this is what was written.

Fejee

Fruit quite large, red, often blushed or tinged with pinkish-crimson, flattened, sometimes ribbed , often smooth, well filled to the centre, flesh pink or pale red, firm and well flavored; plant hardy, healthy and a strong grower

Seeds received from several reliable sources and recommended as being strictly true, produced plants in no respect different from the Perfected

And now Perfected, just a bit, aka Lester's Perfected,Pomo d Oro, Lesterlaro

Then a description, then saying that from a recent writer it has already degenerated/

Therein is the problem with reseraching older varieties. They are known by many defferent synonyms, and the reason for that is b'c from about the mid-1800's onward there was fierce competition between seed companies, they would get a variety and change its name to indicate something exclusive.

One of my major sources is the Michgan State Bulletin of 1939 which is a wonderful resource and in there I can't remember the name of the variety right now, but I counted up to 30 different synonyms for a single variety.

So does it surprise me that Fiji, however it is spelled has been extinct for many years? No, not at all and hundreds of others as well.

HEre's and example of what I'm talking about. A Livington was and is very well known for the varieties he offered in the latter part of the 1800's and many of the varieties we have today can be traced back to many of those varieties.

One of them was

http://t.tatianastomatobase.com/wiki...b=General_Info

It was thought to be extinct until I can't remem
ber who it was who was growing what we now call Lutescent, which I have grown and is a real oddity, and made the connection.

Another example is Shah which has long been extinct and there's a nice thread in the Legacy Forum where Craig describes what it should be, but I'm going tol ink to Tania's page for it b'c it is quicker.

http://t.tatianastomatobase.com/wiki/Shah

It was brought back form the dead by WWW who started SSE listing it, it got spread around but it was actually White Potato Leaf, link to that in Tania's page above.

I have three friends who bid for old seed catalogs on e-bay, the bidding is ridiculous, but b'c of them and some others we now know the background on MANY varieties, when they were introduced, what they looked like, etc.

Steven. I appreciate your interest in this specific variety, but it could have been several hundreds of other varieties that have been extinct for a long time. perhaps you read the thread about Acme that was put up and I asked Mike Dunton of Victory seeds to stop by and post since he is the real authority on Livingston varieties, has a nice history about Livingston, offers seeds for the livingston varieties that are still around and notes which ones are extinct.

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Old August 6, 2015   #13
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Carolyn,

Yep, that was me who started the Acme thread. And last year, I started the Boston Market thread. I've noted seed sellers would take seeds and would often spin them as "their" variety so the true variety could have multiple names - which is why I was wondering if the original variety existed under different names.

Please understand the entire reason I am searching these old varieties is this: it wasn't until 10 years ago that I started gardening at the age of 44. I grew up in Ohio, my dad always had a HUGE garden and I helped him in it - as did my grandmother (his mom) who was born 1888. My dad's grandfather was born in 1843. They - including my mother and her people are all from the hollers of West Virginia - and my parents instilled my love of these old vegetables: half runner beans, huge orange beefsteaks (larger than my hand!), pickled beets, pickled corn, kraut, and chowchow.

I soon realized starting up my gardens that the modern era packet varieties aren't even remotely close to the same flavors as I enjoyed as a boy. Knowing my grandparents and their parents always saved seed and shared them with family, I know the varieties I enjoyed as a boy were from the 19th century. This is why I search for these old varieties - to taste once again the vegetables my grandparents and their parents enjoyed and that I enjoyed as a boy. I have the old white and brown half runners as well as late flat dutch cabbage and table queen acorn squash....but I'm still searching for those old tomatoes.

Some may call it nostalgia, but I call it amazing tasting veggies that I'd like to grow and eat once again. I have no interest in writing/re-writing vegetable books.

As always, I am very appreciate of your expertise or you pointing me in the right direction. When I turn something information up like I've found with Feejee, I share it in hopes someone else might find the info useful.

Last edited by stevenkh1; August 6, 2015 at 05:58 PM.
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Old August 6, 2015   #14
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I should've looked in West Virginia literature first. From the West Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station dated 1904 and it answers ALL my questions about when the tomato was found, cultivated, which old time varieties were first and how the tomato evolved (Carolyn, this is probably old info for you but hopefully, other curious gardeners may find it useful):

"Lycopersicum esculentum, the ordinary tomato, is undoubtedly a native of Peru, but is spontaneous or indigenous throughout Mexico and as far north as Texas and California, in a form closely approaching the Cherry tomato of the gardens. It was probably first cultivated in the south of Europe, where it is mentioned as early as 1561. In 1583, the "fruit was eaten upon the continent, dressed with pepper, salt, and oil"(5). It was grown in England in 1597(6), but for many years was used only for ornament. In 1700 Tourneforte(7) mentions 7 varieties, one of which was pale red, one striped, two yellow, one white, and two red; but the culture was still neglected, for more than 100 years later, in 1819, only 4 red varieties are mentioned, and the pale red sort is not named.(8)

"Our own country was much later even than England in taking up the general culture of the tomato. The fruit is said to have been introduced into Philadelphia by a French refugee from San Domingo, in 1798.(9) In 1806, McMahon writes (10): 'The tomato is much cultivated for its fruits in soups and sauces...and is also stewed and dressed in various ways and very much admired.' It was introduced into Salem, Massachusetts, about 1802, by an Italian painter, Corne 'but he found it difficult to persuade the people even to taste the fruit.'(11)

"The tomato began to be cultivated for the market in this country about 1829, but not until 1839 was it mentioned in the premium lists of the leading horticultural societies(12).

DEVELOPMENT OF THE MODERN TOMATO

"The original wild type of the garden tomato was probably, as suggested by Bailey,(13) very similar to the Cherry tomato of the present day. The tomato, however, is of exceedingly variable habit, and is readily susceptible to the influence of selection. Its variability lies mainly in size, form, and number of cells. In nature there is usually a definite number of cells in the fruit of any given species, but one of the first effects of cultivation is to render this character inconsistent. In the wild tomato there is normally 2 cells; in the cultivated varieties, almost as many different forms and combinations of cells as there are individual fruits. 'The effect of cultivation has been to increase the size of the fruit by the interposition of new cells, this condition resulting in the angular shapes characterizing many of the garden forms. In other words, the modern large fruited and irregular sorts have been developed, first, by augmentation of cells in the primitive type, and later by the modification of the flower and production of an abnormal number of parts.'(14)

"The history of the introduction of the well known garden varieties is of recent date. The old "Large Red" of the earlier catalogs, was followed in 1862 by Fiji Island and in 1869 by the Cook's Favorite. In 1866, Tilden appeared, and then in rapid succession Maupay, Keye's Extra Early, Boston Market, General Grant, Trophy, and Paragon.

"Paragon, the first of many good varieties originated by the veteran tomato breeder A. W. Livingston, of Columbus, Ohio, was a marked step in advance over all former introductions. It was really the first of the round or apple shaped varieties to attain prominence, and gave a great impetus to the tomato as a field crop. It was a triumph for the application of correct principles of selection, for, in the production of this variety, the habit of the whole plant rather than the character of an individual fruit was considered.

"In 1880, Perfection, another of Livingston's selections, appeared; and during the next 10 years, Favorite, Beauty, Dwarf Champion, Lorillard, Ignotum, and a host of less worthy sorts followed. Dwarf Champion was the first of the short jointed, thick leaved varieties to attain prominence; Lorillard, introduced in 1887, marked the special development of tomato growing under glass; Ignotum, originated at the Michigan Agricultural College and first catalogued in 1890, was specially noted for its large, smooth, meaty fruit, and marked the highest development of the tomato at that date.

"Since 1890, Stone, Ruby, Aristocrat, and a host of other new varieties have appeared, but, except that some of the very early sorts have developed a smoother type of fruit, little real advance has been made in the commercial sorts. Each year, however, sees its addition to the list of commercial varieties offered for sale."

5. Dodonaei Stirp. Hist., 455.
6. Gerarde, Herbaile, 275.
7. Inst. Rel. Herb., 1, 150.
8. Trans. Lond. Hort. Socy., III, 347.
9. Manning, Hist. Mass. Hort. Soc., 40.
10. McMahon Gard. Calendar, 319.
11. Felt, Annals of Sale 11, 631: cited by Manning, HIst. Mass. Hort Soc., 40.
12. Manning, Hist. Mass. Hort. Soc., 40.
13. Am. Naturalist, June, 1887, 573; also Bul. 31, Mich. Agr. Coll. The exhaustive study by Bailey of the evolution of the tomato is the best published, and I draw freely from his discussion without further credit. - W. M. M.
14. Baily, loc. cit.

Last edited by stevenkh1; August 6, 2015 at 07:24 PM.
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Old October 8, 2015   #15
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The first catalog listing I've found for Fejee Island is in an 1860 Thorburn catalog - as a "new" tomato. It is also listed in the 1860 Bliss - I didn't find it listed in the 1859 catalogs I've seen. By the early 1870s, it is often listed as a synonym for Lester's Perfected.

Descriptions are of a "large, solid crimson or pink or purple" tomato - after reading lots of catalogs, that means pink in our terminology today (clear skin over red flesh), and no mention of potato leaf foliage (Livingston's Potato Leaf and later, Henderson's Mikado, aka Burpee's Turner's Hybrid, from 1886 are the first of that type to be reported).

My suspicion is that Fejee Island is what possibly could have led to the well known large pink tomato Ponderosa (Henderson), later reselected and released as Winsall. Ferris Wheel, Buckeye State, other large regular leaf pinks started to emerge in the 1880s (whether they were renamings, slightly different reselections - we will never know).

I have some manuscripts of large scale comparative testing of all available named tomatoes carried out in the late 1800s, and even back then, there was serious doubt raised of the uniqueness of some of the varieties - and clearly, genetics wasn't fully understood in terms of how to best improve tomatoes (single fruit vs single plant selection) - meaning lots of variability. It isn't hard to understand why many of the varieties that emerged between 1860 and 1890 appear to be obsolete (at least under the original names).
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